To a generation raised on 1970’s TV, Angie Dickinson will forever be remembered as Sergeant “Pepper” Anderson, the sexy star of the “Police Woman” series. Never mind her long movie career, the films where she appeared alongside such stars as Gregory Peck, Marlon Brando, and John Wayne. No, that was prehistory. To American adolescent boys, Angie Dickinson was the TV babe, your first exposure to small-screen sensuality , before “Charlie’s Angels” fell from the heavens and tested your loyalty. And although your dad knew about Angie’s film career, the truth was he liked her a whole lot as Pepper, too. On such things are nostalgic memories based.
Angie Dickinson was born Angeline Brown on September 30, 1931, in Kulm, North Dakota. Her parents ran the local newspaper in the small farming community until the family moved to California in the early 1940’s. Angie’s beauty was apparent from a young age and she competed in several pageants. Angie’s first love, however, was acting, and when a talent scout discovered her while competing in a pageant, she leapt at the chance to make it in movies.
Like a lot of young actresses of her day, Angie started by doing bit parts in “B” movies. “Lucky Me” (1955), “Gun the Man Down” (1956), and “Tension at Table Rock” (1956) were stepping stones to better roles. Her big break came when Howard Hawks cast her opposite John Wayne and Dean Martin in “Rio Bravo” (1958). Now the world saw not just her beauty, but her talent as well. While the studio ensured her dazzling legs with Lloyd’s of London, Angie focused on acting. She won raves in films like “The Bramble Bush” (1960), “The Killers” (1964), and “The Chase” (1966). She also starred in one of the seminal films of the 1960’s, John Boorman’s brutal noir masterpiece “Point Blank” (1967).
The 1970’s found Angie working in less notable movies, although she always lent them her distinctive humor and elegance but she found her greatest success on the small screen as Pepper Anderson in Police Woman.