Angie Dickinson (born September 30, 1931) is an American actress. She has appeared in more than fifty films, including Rio Bravo, Ocean's 11, Dressed to Kill and Pay It Forward, and starred on television as Sergeant Suzanne "Pepper" Anderson on the 1970s crime series Police Woman.
Dickinson, the second of four daughters, was born Angeline Brown (but called "Angie" by family and friends) in Kulm, North Dakota, the daughter of Frederica and Leo H. Brown. Her family is of German descent and she was raised Roman Catholic. Dickinson's father was a small-town newspaper publisher and editor. In 1942, her family moved to Burbank, California, where she attended Bellarmine-Jefferson High School, graduating in 1947 at just 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.
Angie married football player Gene Dickinson in 1952. With Gene's encouragement, she entered a beauty pageant in 1953, placing 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 would later play 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 Buffalo Bill Jr., Matinee Theatre (eight episodes), City Detective, It's a Great Life (two episodes), Gray Ghost, General Electric Theater, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Broken Arrow, Meet McGraw (twice), Northwest Passage, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Tombstone Territory, Cheyenne, and The Restless Gun.
Angie went on to create memorable characters in programs such as Perry Mason, Mike Hammer, Wagon Train, and Men Into Space. In 1957, Dickinson appeared along with Richard Boone in Have Gun Will Travel, in the first season episode entitled "A Matter of Ethics", and in 1965, she had a recurring role as Carol Tredman on Dr. Kildare. She had a memorable turn as the duplicitous murder conspirator in a 1964 episode of the classic The Fugitive series with David Janssen and fellow guest star Robert Duvall.
Dickinson's motion picture career began with small roles in Lucky Me (1954) with Doris Day, 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 mainly in B-movies early on, westerns, including Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend (1957) co-starring with James Garner.
In 1959, Dickinson appeared in Howard 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.
1960s and 1970s
These were followed by the political potboiler A Fever in the Blood (1961); a Belgian Congo-based melodrama The Sins of Rachel Cade (1962), in which she played a missionary nurse tempted by lust; and the European travelogue Rome Adventure (also known as Lovers Must Learn) in 1962; and Jean Negulesco's Jessica (1962) with Maurice Chevalier, in which she plays a young midwife who is 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.
In The Killers, 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, Robert Duvall, Miriam Hopkins and others.
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. Epitomizing the stark urban mood of the period, the film's 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 high school teacher in the dark comedy Pretty Maids All in a Row with Rock Hudson. One of Dickinson's best-known and most sexually provocative movie roles became 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, creating interest in the movie and a new generation of male fans for Dickinson.
In 1973, she co-starred with Roy Thinnes in the supernatural thriller The Norliss Tapes, a TV-movie produced and directed by Dan Curtis.
Dickinson returned to the small screen in March 1974 to play lead in an episode of the critically acclaimed hit anthology series Police 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 would be 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 producers told her she could become a household name, and 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 would run 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.
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."
After appearing in the television mini-series 'Pearl' (1978), Dickinson returned to the big screen in Brian De Palma's thriller Dressed to Kill (1980). The role, a sexually frustrated New York housewife, earned her a 1981 Saturn Award for Best Actress.
She took a less substantial role in 1981's 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 motion pictures, Dickinson reprised her role as Wilma 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 2000s
In 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 theatrical film Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.
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 new millennium, Dickinson played an alcoholic, homeless mother to Helen Hunt in Pay It Forward (2000); the grandmother of Gwyneth Paltrow in the drama Duets (2000) and the mother of Arliss Howard 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 Roughrider Award.
In 1999, Playboy ranked Dickinson #42 on their list of the '100 Sexiest Stars of the Century'. And in 2002, TV Guide ranked her #3 on their list of the '50 Sexiest television Stars of All Time', behind Diana Rigg and George Clooney (who tied for #1).
In July 2009, Dickinson starred in a Hallmark Channel film, Mending Fences.
She was married to Gene Dickinson, a former football player, from 1952 to 1960.
Dickinson married Burt Bacharach in 1965. They remained a married couple for 15 years, though late in the marriage they had a period of separation where each dated other people. Following the birth of their daughter in 1966, Dickinson temporarily put her career on hold, although she did appear in the occasional picture, such as the western The Last Challenge (1967) with Glenn Ford and the comedy Some Kind of Nut (1969).
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 penned the song Nikki for their fragile young daughter. Angie declined many roles to focus on caring for her daughter. Nikki's parents eventually placed her at the Wilson Center, a psychiatric residential treatment facility for adolescents located in Faribault, Minnesota. Nikki remained there 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 committed suicide in her apartment in the Los Angeles 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, and 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."
Photograph is from the 1959 movie, Rio Bravo and was hand oil tinted by artist, Margaret A. Rogers.