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Dickinson in 1982
September 30, 1931
Kulm, North Dakota
|Spouse(s)||Gene Dickinson (m. 1952–60)
Burt Bacharach (m. 1965–81)
|Children||Nikki Bacharach (1966-2007; suicide)|
Early lifeDickinson, the second of four daughters, was born Angeline Brown (called "Angie" by family and friends) in Kulm, North Dakota, the daughter of Fredericka (née Hehr) and Leo Henry Brown. Her family is of German descent and she was raised Roman Catholic. Her father was a small-town newspaper publisher and editor, working on the Kulm Messenger and the Edgeley Mail. In 1942, her family moved to Burbank, California, where she attended Bellarmine-Jefferson High School, graduating in 1947 at 15 years of age. The previous year, she had won the Sixth Annual Bill of Rights essay contest. She studied at Glendale Community College and in 1954 graduated from Immaculate Heart College with a degree in business. Taking a cue from her publisher father, she had intended to be a writer. While a student from 1950–52, she worked as a secretary at Lockheed Air Terminal in Burbank (now Bob Hope Airport) and in a parts factory. She became Angie Dickinson in 1952, when she married football player Gene Dickinson.
Early careerDickinson entered a beauty pageant in 1953 and placed second. The exposure brought her to the attention of a television industry producer, who asked her to consider a career in acting. She studied the craft and a few years later was approached by NBC to guest-star on a number of variety shows, including The Colgate Comedy Hour. She soon met Frank Sinatra, who became a lifelong friend. She later was cast as Sinatra's wife in the film Ocean's 11.
On New Year's Eve 1954, Dickinson made her television acting debut in an episode of Death Valley Days. This led to other roles in such productions as Matinee Theatre (eight episodes), Buffalo Bill Jr., City Detective, It's a Great Life (two episodes), Gray Ghost, General Electric Theater, Broken Arrow, The People's Choice (twice), Meet McGraw (twice), Northwest Passage, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Tombstone Territory, Cheyenne, and The Restless Gun.
In 1956, Dickinson was cast as Ann Drew, who slips a gun to her jailed husband, Harry (John Craven), a former associate of the Jesse James gang, in the ABC/Desilu western series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, starring Hugh O'Brian. In the story line, Harry vowed never to go to prison and was shot to death while escaping.
In 1957,she was cast as Amy Bender in Richard Boone's series "Have Gun,Will Travel" episode,'A Matter of Ethics'.She was cast as the sister of a man that was killed and who wanted the murderer lynched. Paladin was hired by the accused to make sure they didn't achieve their goal.
In 1958, she was cast as Laura Meadows in the episode "The Deserters" of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Colt .45, with Wayde Preston. The guest cast also included Michael Dante as Ab Saunders and Myron Healey as an unnamed fur trader. That year she also played the role of defendant Mrs. Fargo in the Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the One-Eyed Witness".
Dickinson went on to create memorable characters in Mike Hammer, Wagon Train, and Men into Space. In 1965, she had a recurring role as Carol Tredman on NBC's Dr. Kildare. She had a memorable turn as the duplicitous murder conspirator in a 1964 episode of The Fugitive series with David Janssen and fellow guest star Robert Duvall. She was at her evil best as an unfaithful wife and bank robber in the 1958 "Wild Blue Yonder" episode of Rod Cameron's underrated syndicated television series State Trooper.
Dickinson's motion picture career began with a small, uncredited role in Lucky Me (1954) starring Doris Day, followed by The Return of Jack Slade (1955), Man with the Gun (1955), and Hidden Guns (1956). She had her first starring role in Gun the Man Down (1956) with James Arness, followed by the Sam Fuller cult film China Gate (1957), which depicted an early view of the Vietnam War.
Rejecting the Marilyn Monroe/Jayne Mansfield style of platinum blonde sex-symbolism because she felt it would narrow her acting options, Dickinson initially allowed studios to lighten her naturally-brunette hair to only honey-blonde. She appeared early-on mainly in B-movies or westerns, including Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend (1957) in which she co-starred with James Garner.
Leading ladyHoward Hawks' Rio Bravo, in which she played a flirtatious gambler called "Feathers" who becomes attracted to the town sheriff played by Dickinson's childhood idol John Wayne. The film co-starred Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, and Walter Brennan. When Hawks sold his personal contract with her to a major studio without her knowledge, she was unhappy. Dickinson nonetheless became one of the more prominent leading ladies of the next decade, beginning with The Bramble Bush with Richard Burton and Ocean's 11 with friends Sinatra and Martin, two films released in 1960. These were followed by the political potboiler A Fever in the Blood (1961), a Belgian Congo-based melodrama, The Sins of Rachel Cade (1961), in which she played a missionary nurse tempted by lust, and the title role in Jean Negulesco's Jessica (1962) with Maurice Chevalier, in which she played a young midwife resented by the married women of the town. Angie would also share the screen with friend Gregory Peck in the comedy-drama Captain Newman, M.D. (1963).
In The Killers (1964), a film originally intended to be the very first made-for-television movie but released to theatres due to its violent content, Dickinson played a femme fatale opposite future U.S. President Ronald Reagan in his last movie role. This movie was directed by Don Siegel. It was a remake of the 1946 version based on a story by Ernest Hemingway.
Dickinson co-starred in the comedy The Art of Love (1965), in which she played the love interest of both James Garner and Dick Van Dyke. She appeared in a star-studded Arthur Penn/Sam Spiegel production, The Chase (1966), along with Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, and Robert Duvall. That same year she appeared in Cast a Giant Shadow with Kirk Douglas.
Dickinson's best movie of this era was arguably John Boorman's cult classic Point Blank (1967), a lurid crime drama with Lee Marvin as a criminal betrayed by his wife and best friend and out for revenge. The film epitomized the stark urban mood of the period, and its reputation has grown through the years.
Westerns would continue to be a part of her work in 1969, when she starred in Young Billy Young with Robert Mitchum, and in Sam Whiskey, where she gave a young Burt Reynolds his first on-screen kiss.
In 1971, she played a lascivious substitute high school teacher in the dark comedy Pretty Maids All in a Row for director Roger Vadim and writer-producer Gene Roddenberry, in which her character seduces a sexually inexperienced student, portrayed by John David Carson, against the backdrop of a series of murders of female students at the same high school; it was a box-office failure. In 1972, she played in The Outside Man, a French movie shot in LA, with Jean-Louis Trintignant, directed by Jacques Deray. In this movie she plays the wife of a mobster. In 1973, she co-starred with Roy Thinnes in the supernatural thriller The Norliss Tapes, a TV-movie produced and directed by Dan Curtis. One of Dickinson's best-known and most sexually provocative movie roles was the tawdry widow Wilma McClatchie from the Great Depression romp Big Bad Mama (1974) with William Shatner and Tom Skerritt. Although well into her forties at the time, she appeared nude in several scenes, which created interest in the movie and a new generation of male fans for Dickinson.
Police WomanPolice Story. That one guest appearance proved to be so popular that NBC offered Dickinson her own television show which became a ground-breaking weekly police series called Police Woman; it was the first successful hour-long dramatic television series to feature a woman as the star of the show. At first, Dickinson was reluctant to accept the role, but when producers told her she could become a household name she accepted the role.
In the series, she played Sgt. Suzanne "Pepper" Anderson, an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department's Criminal Conspiracy Unit. The show became a hit, reaching number one in many countries in which it aired during its first year. It ran for four seasons and Dickinson would win a Golden Globe award, and receive Emmy nominations for three consecutive years.
Co-starring on the show was Earl Holliman as Sergeant Bill Crowley, Anderson's commanding officer, along with Charles Dierkop as investigator Pete Royster and Ed Bernard as investigator Joe Styles.
The series ran from 1974 to 1978. The same year the show ended, Dickinson reprised her Pepper Anderson character on the television special Ringo, co-starring with Ringo Starr and John Ritter. She also parodied the part in the 1975 and 1979 Bob Hope Christmas Specials for NBC. She would do the same years later on the 1987 Christmas episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live.
Police Woman caused a surge of applications for employment from women to police departments around the United States; journalists who have in recent years examined the inspiration for long-term female law enforcement officials to adopt this vocation as their own have been surprised by how often Dickinson's Police Woman has been referenced.
Dickinson and Police Woman proved that a female lead could carry an hour-long television series, paving the way for several female-starring, hour-long TV series during the 1970s and 1980s, such as Charlie's Angels, Wonder Woman, The Bionic Woman and Cagney and Lacey. In 1987, the Los Angeles Police Department awarded Dickinson an honorary doctorate, which led her to quip, "Now you can call me Doctor Pepper."
The 1980sAfter appearing in the television mini-series Pearl (1978), Dickinson returned to the big screen in Brian De Palma's erotic thriller Dressed to Kill (1980). The role of Kate Miller, a sexually frustrated New York housewife, earned her a 1981 Saturn Award for Best Actress.
Death Hunt, reuniting her with Lee Marvin, and also appeared in Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. Earlier that year, she had been the first choice to play the character Krystle Carrington on the television series Dynasty but, deciding she wanted to spend more time with her daughter, she turned it down; the role instead went to Linda Evans. In the mid-1980s Dickinson declined the role of Sable Colby on the Dynasty spin-off, The Colbys.
After nixing her own Johnny Carson-produced prospective sitcom, The Angie Dickinson Show in 1980 after only two episodes had been shot because she did not feel she was funny enough, the private-eye series Cassie & Co. became her unsuccessful attempt at a television comeback. She then starred in several television movies, such as One Shoe Makes It Murder (1982), Jealousy (1984), A Touch of Scandal (1984), and Stillwatch (1987). She also had a pivotal role in the highly rated mini-series Hollywood Wives (1985), based on a novel by Jackie Collins.
In 1982, and again in 1986, Dickinson appeared in two of Perry Como's Christmas specials for the ABC television network, in both of which she did something she was not known to have done before: singing. The specials in which she appeared, and in which she sang songs, were Perry Como's Christmas In Paris, produced on location in Paris, France, which was transmitted on Saturday, December 18, 1982, and The Perry Como Christmas Special, produced on location in San Antonio, Texas, and transmitted on Saturday, December 6, 1986. As of early January of 2013, these two specials were not known to be available on home video. Dickinson later denied having sung on camera since then in an interview with Larry King conducted at the approximate time of her appearance in Duets.[episode needed]
In motion pictures, Dickinson reprised her role as Wilma McClatchie for Big Bad Mama II (1987) and completed the television movie Kojak: Fatal Flaw, in which she was reunited with Telly Savalas. She co-starred with Willie Nelson and numerous buddies in the 1988 television western Once Upon a Texas Train.
1990s and 2000sIn the 1993 ABC miniseries Wild Palms, produced by Oliver Stone, she was the sadistic, militant sister of Senator Tony Kruetzer, played by Robert Loggia. That same year, she starred as a ruthless Montana spa owner in Gus Van Sant's Even Cowgirls Get the Blues with Uma Thurman.
In 1995, Sydney Pollack cast her as the prospective mother-in-law of Greg Kinnear in the romantic comedy Sabrina starring Harrison Ford, a remake of the Billy Wilder classic. She also played Burt Reynolds' wife in the thriller The Maddening and the mother of Rick Aiello and Robert Cicchini in the National Lampoon comedy The Don's Analyst. In 1997, she also seduced old flame Artie (Rip Torn) in an episode of HBO's The Larry Sanders Show called "Artie and Angie and Hank and Hercules."
During the first decade of the Third Millennium, Dickinson acted out the alcoholic, homeless mother of Helen Hunt's character in Pay It Forward (2000); the grandmother of Gwyneth Paltrow's character in the drama Duets (2000), and the mother of Arliss Howard's character in Big Bad Love (2001), co-starring Debra Winger.
Having appeared in the original Ocean's 11 (1960) with good friends Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, four decades later she made a brief cameo in the 2001 remake with George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
An avid poker player, during the summer of 2004 she participated in the second season of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown. After announcing her name, host Dave Foley said, "Sometimes, when we say 'celebrity,' we actually mean it."
Dickinson is a recipient of the state of North Dakota's Rough Rider Award.
In 1999, Playboy ranked Dickinson No. 42 on their list of the "100 Sexiest Stars of the Century." In 2002, TV Guide ranked her No. 3 on their list of the "50 Sexiest television Stars of All Time," behind Diana Rigg and George Clooney (who tied for No. 1).
In July, 2009, Dickinson starred in a Hallmark Channel film, Mending Fences.
Personal lifeJohn Kenneth Galbraith and Catherine Galbraith her extensive visiting them and touring when he was American Ambassador to India is amply recounted in Galbraith memoirs including Ambassador's Journal and A Life in Our Times.
She married Burt Bacharach in 1965. They remained a married couple for 15 years, though late in their marriage, they had a period of separation where each dated other people.
Their daughter, Lea Nikki, known as Nikki, arrived a year after they were married. Born three months prematurely, Nikki suffered from chronic health problems, including visual impairment; she was later diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. Burt composed the music of the song Nikki for their fragile young daughter, and Angie rejected many roles to focus on caring for their daughter. Nikki's parents eventually placed her at the Wilson Center, a psychiatric residential treatment facility for adolescents in Faribault, Minnesota, where she remained for nine years. Later, Nikki studied geology at California Lutheran University, but her poor eyesight prevented her from pursuing a career in that field.
On January 4, 2007, Nikki killed herself by suffocation in her apartment in the Ventura County suburb of Thousand Oaks. She was 40. In a joint statement, Dickinson and Bacharach said, "She quietly and peacefully committed suicide to escape the ravages to her brain brought on by Asperger's ... She loved kitties, earthquakes, glacial calving, meteor showers, science, blue skies and sunsets, and Tahiti. She was one of the most beautiful creatures created on this earth, and she is now in the white light, at peace."
Awards & nominations
- 1975 – Best Actress in a Drama Series for Police Woman – Nominated
- 1976 – Best Actress in a Drama Series for Police Woman – Nominated
- 1977 – Best Actress in a drama Series for Police Woman – Nominated
Golden Globe Awards
- 1960 – New Star Actress of the Year – Won
- 1975 – Best Actress in a Drama Series for Police Woman – Won
- 1976 – Best Actress in a Drama Series for Police Woman – Nominated
- 1977 – Best Actress in a Drama Series for Police Woman – Nominated
- 1978 – Best Actress in a Drama Series for Police Woman –Nominated
- 1980 – Best Actress for Dressed To Kill – Won
- 1987 – Received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to television.
- Lucky Me (1954)
- Tennessee's Partner (1955)
- The Return of Jack Slade (1955)
- Man with the Gun (1955)
- Hidden Guns (1956)
- Tension at Table Rock (1956)
- Gun the Man Down (1956)
- The Black Whip (1956)
- Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend (1957)
- China Gate (1957)
- Calypso Joe (1957)
- Run of the Arrow (1957) (dubbing voice for Sara Montiel)
- I Married a Woman (1958)
- Cry Terror! (1958)
- Rio Bravo (1959)
- I'll Give My Life (1960)
- The Bramble Bush (1960)
- Ocean's 11 (1960)
- A Fever in the Blood (1961)
- The Sins of Rachel Cade (1961)
- Rome Adventure (1962)
- Jessica (1962)
- The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962)
- Captain Newman, M.D. (1963)
- The Killers (1964)
- The Art of Love (1965)
- The Chase (1966)
- Cast a Giant Shadow (1966)
- The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966)
- Point Blank (1967)
- The Last Challenge (1967)
- Sam Whiskey (1969)
- Some Kind of a Nut (1969)
- Young Billy Young (1969)
- The Love War (1970)
- Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971)
- The Outside Man (1972)
- The Norliss Tapes (1973)
- Pray for the Wildcats (1974)
- Big Bad Mama (1974)
- The Angry Man (aka Jig-Saw) (1979)
- Klondike Fever (1980)
- Dressed to Kill (1980)
- Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981)
- Death Hunt (1981)
- Hollywood Wives (1985)
- Big Bad Mama II (1987)
- Once Upon a Texas Train (1988)
- Fire and Rain (1989)
- Prime Target (1989)
- Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1994)
- The Maddening (1995)
- Sabrina (1995)
- The Sun, the Moon and the Stars (1996)
- Deep Family Secrets (1997)
- The Last Producer (2000)
- Duets (2000)
- Pay It Forward (2000)
- Big Bad Love (2001)
- Ocean's Eleven (2001)
- Elvis Has Left the Building (2004)
- Madman Muntz: American Maverick (2005) (documentary)
- 3055 Jean Leon (2006) (documentary)
- The Brothers Warner (2008) (documentary)
- Mending Fences (2009) (television film)