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Charlie's Angels Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

In the mid-1970s, ABC was third in the ratings and in desperate need of a hit. They turned to producers Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg to bring a little bounce to "jiggle TV" (a derogatory term coined by rival NBC executive Paul Klein). What started life as "Alley Cats," then "Harry's Angels," ultimately became "Charlie's Angels," a show where the lead detectives were not male, but beautiful and smart females, a fresh idea in a time when feminism was in full swing. Spelling, reflecting on his own pioneering program, said, "These women did the legwork, fighting and collaring each episode's villain. In doing so they developed the type of buddy relationship previously reserved for male heroes."

The show became an instant monster hit with the public (but was trashed by the critics and true feminists), and the trio of unknown Angels, Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith, were soon known around the world. Everyone wanted a piece of the Angels, with crazed fans breaking into their houses, and people crashing their set, even once getting a visit from a different Charlie — Prince Charles. Yet after five seasons, 115 episodes (with eight costume changes per Angel per show), and the tumultuous departing of three of the Angels, the show came to an end — a fate that has also befallen four of the show's lead actors and several of their very special guest stars.

Here are the "Charlie's Angels" actors you may not know passed away.

John Forsythe (Charles Townsend)

The Angels' employer, Charles Townsend, proved it's better to be heard than seen. The voice-only gig was actor Gig Young's to lose, and due to his issues with alcohol, producer Aaron Spelling fired him and roused John Forsythe out of bed, pajamas, slippers and all, to head immediately to Fox Studios and save the day. Forsythe would knock out his future Charlie dialogue recordings in 15 minutes, and told Larry King it was "the easiest and best job any actor has ever had." To add to Charlie's mystery, the role went uncredited, and when he did finally "appear" in the finale, the partially masked man seen wasn't even Forsythe. Never appearing on set, it wouldn't be until years later that Forsythe actually met any of the actresses who played the Angels.

Over six decades, John Forsythe did it all. His first job was lending his soon-to-be-famous voice to Brooklyn Dodgers radio broadcasts in the 1940s. He landed on everyone's TV dial in the '50s on the sitcom "Bachelor Father," and was employed by Alfred Hitchcock for 1955's "The Trouble with Harry," and 1969's "Topaz." Forsythe proved to be a lucky charm for Aaron Spelling, as the two found even more dynamic success on the classic '80s TV series "Dynasty," where he played the debonair oil tycoon Blake Carrington. In a fitting wrap to his career, Forsythe was finally credited as the voice of Charlie in the 2000 feature film and its 2003 "Full Throttle" sequel.

After a yearlong battle with cancer, he died on April's Fools' Day, 2010 from complications of pneumonia at the age of 92.

David Doyle (John Bosley)

While the Angels were the meat of the show, John Bosley (not to be confused with Tom Bosley) did all the unglamorous work for the Townsend Detective Agency, including being the butt of many jokes. Someone had to be the go-between for Charlie's voice in the box and the three lovely ladies, and gravelly-voiced actor David Doyle brought many smiles and much warmth to the role of everyone's "favorite uncle" Boz. While rarely the focus of any storyline — outside of Season 3's "Angels in Waiting" episode — Doyle knew his place, noting in an interview with the Associated Press, "I've wanted to do more on the show. It's true I've had to calm down my desire to do more." Along with Jaclyn Smith, he was the only actor to appear in every single episode. His efforts earned him an Emmy nomination in 1977 and a Golden Globe nod in 1980.

Doyle preferred working in theater over the delayed gratification of filmed entertainment, telling the Los Angeles Times, "It's a full, complete quilt — much more fulfilling than piecework." Yet he kept plenty busy onscreen in films like 1977's "Capricorn One" and other Aaron Spelling TV projects like "Fantasy Island," while also doing voiceover work. His final role was Grandpa Lou Pickles for 82 episodes on the animated series "Rugrats."

He died of a heart attack in 1997, at age 67.

Tanya Roberts (Julie Rogers)

When Season 5 kicked off, streetwise model Julie Rogers was being investigated by the Angels. By the end of the episode, she joined them, becoming the sixth and final Angel. Blue-eyed beauty Tanya Roberts beat out an alleged 2,000 other candidates to replace Shelley Hack's departed Tiffany Welles, who lasted only one season. Hack had replaced Kate Jackson's Sabrina Jackson, who served for three. Roberts' Rogers appeared in all 16 episodes of the final season of the show, which couldn't recapture its earlier magic nor survive its ratings plunge.

Born Victoria Leigh Blum, Roberts moved to Hollywood with her future husband, screenwriter Barry Roberts. After a few small roles, "Angels" was her big break, and even if the show was coming to an end, her career was just getting going. She appeared in "The Beastmaster," became a Bond girl in Roger Moore's final outing as 007, "A View to a Kill," and played the title Tarzan-like character in 1984's "Sheena." The film was a box office disappointment and a multiple Razzie Award nominee. She rebounded later and achieved success with a whole new generation on 81 episodes of "That '70s Show," as Donna's (Laura Prepon) mother Midge.

Early reports of her death by her publicist were grossly exaggerated, but she eventually did pass away in January 2021, at age 65.

Soon-Tek Oh (Lieutenant Torres)

When the Angels got some well-needed R&R in Hawaii during Season 5, they also ended up tackling four cases. Working in coordination with the sharp-dressed and equally sharp-minded Lieutenant Torres (Soon-Tek Oh) of the Oahu Police Department, they left no stone uncovered. Torres, the Angels and Bosley tackled cases involving drug smuggling, anarchist assassins, assaults on secluded beaches, and kidnapping.

The Korean-born Oh moved to America after receiving a scholarship to USC's cinema department, eventually earning an MFA from UCLA. Dissatisfied with the roles he and other Asian-Americans were being offered in Hollywood, he co-founded the theater company East West Players in 1965. In Esther Kim Lee's book, "A History of Asian American Theatre," Oh called EWP "a decisive influence in amending the debasing Hollywood image" of Asian actors.

1965 was also the year of his first credited screen role, on "I Spy." He worked steadily from there, assisting James Bond in "The Man with the Golden Gun," antagonizing Chuck Norris in "Missing in Action 2," and providing the voice for Mulan's father in the Disney animated film of the same name and its sequel. He acted as a sensei to Gary Coleman on "Diff'rent Strokes," and again opposite Chris Farley in 1997's "Beverly Hills Ninja." He also returned repeatedly to Hawaii, guest starring on "Hawaii Five-0," "Magnum, P.I.," and reuniting with Cheryl Ladd in 1996 on her show, "One West Waikiki."

The trailblazing Oh lost his battle with Alzheimer's disease in 2018, passing at age 85.

Dick Sargent (Hugh Morris-Marty Cole-Avery)

Dick Sargent handled a trio of "Angels" roles, first appearing in "Angels on Wheels" as the owner of a titillating roller derby team. In the episode "Angels In Vegas" — which crossed over with another Spelling series, "Vega$," that Sargent also guested on — he played a crooked lounge singer using the casino hotel (run by Dean Martin) as a background for other shady dealings. In his final voyage on the series, he hired the girls in the "Love Boat" crossover episode "Love Boat Angels" to help him recover some stolen antiquities from a thief played by late actor and game show host Bert Convy.

When Dick York's severe back injury forced him out of the role of Samantha's non-magical husband on "Bewitched," Dick Sargent stepped in and forever became a household fixture to everyone as the second Darrin. He was no stranger to mystical women, even appearing on an episode of "I Dream of Jeannie" prior to his Darrin days. Other notable roles included co-starring in the 1959 Cary Grant-Tony Curtis submarine comedy "Operation Petticoat," and with Don Knotts in 1966's "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken." On National Coming Out Day in 1991, Sargent did just that and went on to do charitable work for AIDS awareness and research, as well as for the Special Olympics and World Hunger.

He died of prostate cancer in 1994, at age 64.

Dennis Cole (Tony Bordinay-James Britten-Carl Hansworth)

With matinee idol looks, Dennis Cole got down to both business and pleasure on "Charlie's Angels." His first role was on Season 1's "Dancing in the Dark," as a blackmailer with illicit photos who almost gets Kelly killed. His next job saw him as former astronaut James Britten, helping to identify suckers (and their money) looking for unidentified flying objects, who also lands on the radar of a keen Kelly. Cole completed work on the series in Season 3 as U.N. envoy Carl Hansworth, a skilled skier and possible kidnap target that the Angels aim to protect. They all hit the slopes while he and Kelly turn up the heat in their frosty surroundings.

If you notice that Dennis Cole's characters progressively got closer to Jaclyn Smith's Kelly, that's because it happened in real life too. They met on the set, took their relationship slowly over a 19-month courtship, married in the fall of 1978, had a rocky go of it, and divorced in 1981. Cole's son Joey (from a previous marriage) was murdered during a robbery attempt. The case remains unsolved, and Cole became an anti-violence advocate, even refusing to star in films that contained violence, which soon limited his hirability. He left Hollywood to work in Florida real estate, and died of renal failure in 2009 at age 69.

Denny Miller (Helmut Klaus-Ed Fellows-Jeff Stanowitch)

Denny Miller's hairline caught the eye of an agent and a star was born. His blond locks went on to appear on numerous TV shows, including thrice on "Charlie's Angels." His first assignment was in "Circus of Terror" as a German knife thrower named Helmut Klaus, who takes aim at new assistant Kris. Next he was deputized as shifty sheriff Ed Fellows, who is of no help to the "Angels on Vacation." His final round of action with the "Stuntwomen Angels" found him as a jealous husband who resorted to bow and arrow tactics to scare his wife out of the movie industry.

Miller initially didn't envision being an actor, as the UCLA Bruins basketball player graduated with a degree in physical education. But he swung into view as the first blond screen Tarzan in 1959's "Tarzan, the Ape Man," then saddled up as Duke Shannon for over 100 episodes of "Wagon Train," and had a ball opposite Peter Sellers in Blake Edward's 1968 film "The Party."

He also excelled in the ad industry, wiping up as the Brawny paper towel guy for 12 years, and starting in 1991, embarked on a 14-year tour of duty as the yellow-slickered fisherman spokesman for Gorton's (he was the only one who showed up at the audition with a beard). He also wrote several books, including his 2004 memoir, "Didn't You Used to Be What's His Name?"

Diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 2014, Miller died later that year at age 80.

Michael Witney (Ted Burton-Stone-Police Officer)

Some careers have "Charlie's Angels" as a pit stop along the way, but for actor Michael Witney, it turned into a swan song. He was a triple threat over the final three seasons, first playing murderer-with-a-leadpipe Ted Burton. That was followed by playing a thief named Stone, who kidnaps Kelly and a cop's abused son (long story). He wrapped his resume with a small role as an unnamed "Police Officer" in "Let Our Angel Live," which also served as the final episode of the series.

Witney made the most of his short 19-year career, slinging a lot of guns in Westerns on the small and big screens. His big first break was playing Buck Coulter on 1963-64 series "The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters," followed by guest roles on classics like "Rawhide," "Gunsmoke," and "Bonanza." He also co-starred with big guns Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum in 1967's "The Way West." More modern fare included a spot on "Star Trek," and playing drilling superintendent Frank Ward on the 1975 BBC series "Oil Strike North." 

In 1977, Witney married British model and actress Twiggy. The birth of their daughter Carly followed a year later. His drinking problems spun out of control and Witney tried to rehabilitate himself through Alcoholics Anonymous. But in 1981 he died of a heart attack at age 52, while taking Carly to a McDonald's in New York to celebrate her fourth birthday.

Norman Alden (Louis Fluellen-P.J. Wilkes-Jake Barnett)

With a cranky voice and a pinched face, Norman Alden brought his supporting magic in triplicate to "Charlie's Angels." He first appeared as a man with the plan and a van in "Sammy Davis, Jr. Kidnap Caper," then ran a club in "Dancin' Angels” where missteps were afoot at his weekend dance competition. He wrapped up his fare share of episodes with "Taxi Angels," as a suspicious mechanic who may or may not have been tinkering with the cabs in a mischievous way.

Aaron Spelling called upon Alden's services 47 times in addition to his work with the Angels, for everything from "Honey West" and "Mod Squad" to "Fantasy Island" and "Dynasty." The prolific actor (his family estimates he worked in over 2,500 films, shows and ads combined) also appeared on "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," voiced Aquaman on "Super Friends," and got greasy once again in AC Delco ads as Lou the mechanic. His best known role is perhaps playing the titular proprietor of Lou's Cafe, who won't give a life jacket-wearing Marty McFly a break or even a free Pepsi in "Back to the Future."

Alden died of natural causes at age 87 in 2012.

Richard Bakalyan (Thad Roper-Eddie Feducci-Artie Weaver)

Character actor Richard Bakalyan started his triple crown of "Angels" roles as horse trainer Thad Roper in Season 3's "Angels in the Stretch" episode. He showed up the following season in "Avenging Angel" as Eddie Feducci, a buddy of an ex-con out to seek revenge on Kelly by doping her up with heroin. Bakalyan rounded out his tenure as Artie Weaver, a bodybuilding trainer who is marked for death in the series' penultimate episode, "Mr. Galaxy."

Bakalyan started his career playing juvenile delinquents, including one in Robert Altman's 1957 film directorial debut, "The Delinquents." He then gravitated to playing gangsters and tough guys in films, including 1964's "Robin and the 7 Hoods" with his pal Frank Sinatra. Besides his "Angels" stints, "Dicky B" (a nickname given to him by Frank's daughter Nancy) worked on several other Aaron Spelling productions, starting with "Johnny Ringo" in 1960 and ending with an episode of "Matt Houston" in 1984. One of his more high-profile roles was playing Detective Loach, who shoots Faye Dunaway in "Chinatown."

Bakalyan died in his sleep of a brain hemorrhage in 2015, at age 84.

Louie Elias (Fred Couper-Sloan-Haller-Joseph Stack-Frank)

Louie Elias is one of only two actors (the other being Rick Casorla) to play five different roles on "Charlie's Angels." He set sail with the "Angels at Sea" as Fred Couper, a cruise ship chief engineer who doesn't hang around long, hunted heads as Sloan with "Angels on Horseback," was hostage taker Haller in "Angels on Vacation," hit the high seas again as goon Joseph Stack in "Love Boat Angels," and appeared one last time as a henchman named Frank, who gets pushed around by bodybuilders in "Mr. Galaxy."

Elias played football at UCLA, then pro ball in Canada, but when injuries cut his career short, he started his Hollywood path with bit parts and stunt work. His first stunt work, on "Spartacus," earned him a permanent scar on his chin after Kirk Douglas drowned him in a soup cauldron. "Action Louie" further gave all of himself in films such as "Planet of the Apes," "True Grit," and even "Flashdance." His one appearance and leap from the tower on "F Troop" was immortalized forever in the show's opening credits.

He died in 2018, at age 84.

Farrah Fawcett (Jill Munroe)

Farrah Fawcett was the "perfect" L.A. blonde Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg were looking for when they cast her as sporty Jill Munroe, one of Charlie's three original "Angels." Perhaps the most famous Angel of them all, with a flip hairstyle everyone wanted and a body that sold endless pin-up posters, Fawcett had bigger things and screens in mind for her career and wanted to jump ship after only one season. A nasty contract dispute extended her character's life on the show for six additional episodes over the next two seasons, as Jill "resigned" to follow her passion of driving racecars. She was replaced by "sister" Kris, played by Cheryl Ladd, who stayed until the series ended.

Fawcett's big movie career didn't exactly pan out as planned initially, but when she eventually got the chance to play against her sultry type, Fawcett shined. She won raves and Emmy nominations for the two '80s TV movies "The Burning Bed" and "Small Sacrifices," and an Independent Spirit Award nod for 1997's "The Apostle." Her love life was almost as notorious as her career, thanks to her marriage with Lee Majors — who introduced her to Spelling — and her on-and-off love affair with Ryan O'Neal. O'Neal was with Fawcett until the very end, when she died from anal cancer at age 62 in 2009. She candidly documented her battle with cancer in "Farrah's Story," which aired a month before she passed.