Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Only Charlie's Angels Actress Who Stayed Through The Whole Series

Common social media parlance often suggests that the only period of television history that really matters is the last 25 or so years. On some level, that recency bias can be reasonably accounted for; it was the 21st century that saw the rise of "Peak TV," with its increasingly high production values, standards of writerly and directorial quality on par with any award-winning movie you could name, and relaxed, de-stigmatized boundaries between the realms of big- and small-screen-bound production. But the hype around "Peak TV" often leads us to overlook the importance that older, less agreeably prestigious TV shows hold as building blocks of our current media landscape — as is the case of the original "Charlie's Angels."

What we now know as a huge media franchise — complete with two different star-studded cinematic iterations — started out, after all, as a popular yet critically belittled spy drama show on ABC in the mid-'70s. Originally starring Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Jaclyn Smith as the titular crime-fighting private investigators at the Charles Townsend Agency, the Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts-created series quickly became an audience sensation and went on to cast a long shadow over American pop culture. But, like any hit TV show, "Charlie's Angels" also faced some growing pains — as exemplified by the fact that only one of its original Angels stayed with the show to the very end of its five-season, 115-episode run. Keep on reading to find out who that was, and why she was the only one.

Jaclyn Smith's Kelly Garrett remained on the show all the way through

Being that "Charlie's Angels" was one of the most popular and talked-about TV shows of the '70s, the multiple cast changes it went through inevitably became hot items in the entertainment press. And as extraordinary and momentous as each of those changes were deemed to be, it was just as extraordinary, in a way, that one of the original "angels" did stay on the show to the very end. That would be Kelly Garrett, who, as played by Jaclyn Smith, appeared on every single one of the show's 115 episodes.

Along with Farrah Fawcett's Jill Munroe and Kate Jackson's Sabrina Duncan, Kelly Garrett was one of the three members of the original trio of Charles Townsend agents. An orphan with a highly troubled past, Kelly was the group's steeliest, most effortlessly skilled, and most fashionable member, as well as its de facto leader from the departure of Sabrina onward. In fact, as shown in the later "Charlie's Angels" films, Kelly stayed in the Townsend Agency ranks even after the death of its founder and namesake, becoming his successor as the mastermind of the whole operation. Not for nothing, Jaclyn Smith is also the only actress from the original series to have appeared in the movies in any capacity, first in a cameo in the 2003 sequel "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," and then with Kelly apparently stepping in as head of the agency in the 2019 reboot.

The Charlie's Angels trio went through a lot of changes

While Kelly Garrett remained a dependable presence throughout the entire run of "Charlie's Angels," the makeup of the central trio she was part of changed frequently.

The first original "angel" out the door was Farrah Fawcett, who resigned from the series at the end of the 1st season in 1977. Fawcett's decision led to an embittered legal battle between her and ABC over the terms of her contract, with both parties eventually reaching an agreement that Fawcett would leave the show but return for guest appearances in future seasons, as noted by CBS News. Fawcett was replaced by Cheryl Ladd, who would remain on the show until its end. Given the popularity of Fawcett's Jill Munroe, Ladd's character was written as her younger sister, Kristine "Kris" Munroe, a fresh-faced newcomer to the world of crimefighting who was eager to follow in her big sister's footsteps.

Then, during the 3rd season, the show began to face diminishing ratings and an increasingly ramshackle production situation. Kate Jackson was upset by the dwindling quality of the material given to the cast, and, eventually, the last straw came: Due to her commitment to the show, she had to give up the part of Joanna Kramer in "Kramer vs. Kramer" (via People), for which her replacement — a certain Meryl Streep — would go on to win the Academy Award for best supporting actress. Jackson opted to leave the show, taking Sabrina Duncan with her.

Shelley Hack and Tanya Roberts were the last Angels to join the fold

Between Seasons 2 and 3, it briefly looked as though "Charlie's Angels" had fully bounced back from the departure of Farrah Fawcett with the rock-solid, equally popular trio it flaunted in Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith, and Cheryl Ladd. But, when Jackson "[hung] up her halo," as a People Magazine cover famously put it, producers were once again left to scramble for a replacement — and for a way to keep audiences devoted to an ever-shifting dynamic.

The solution found was Shelley Hack, an actress previously known for her appearances in ads for Revlon's popular "Charlie" perfume throughout the '70s. With her flair and old-Hollywood elegance, Hack's Tiffany Welles was deemed the ringleader for a directional shift in the show's philosophy, toward an increased sense of glamour and a renewed preoccupation with fashion — complete with TV's biggest wardrobe budget at the time (via People). The cast addition didn't help the show's suffering ratings, though, leading ABC to fire Hack at the end of Season 4.

In came Tanya Roberts in the role of Julie Rogers, who became the sixth and final Angel to be added to the series' rotating trio. Her character was a former rebellious teen, much like Roberts herself, and the cast and crew held out hope for some time that she could be the one to revive audience interest in "Charlie's Angels." Ultimately, that didn't pan out, leading the show to be canceled after five seasons, with Smith standing alone as the only OG Angel remaining from the 1st season.