The Aaron Spelling drama debuted 40 years ago today on ABC
Credit: ABC

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Charlie’s Angels this month, we asked Cheryl Ladd — who played Kris Munroe from 1977 to 1981 — to expose the (nearly) naked truth about a very revealing moment from the iconic series.

It seems like you wore bikinis way more than your costars ever did.

That is absolutely correct.

Were you ever given the option of a one-piece, or was it strictly bikini, bikini, bikini?

I always tried to put a one-piece on and the producers would say, “No, Aaron [Spelling, the EP] loves your tummy.” They had me in these crop tops and everything because Aaron said, “She’s got the cutest belly button in the history of belly buttons.”

In the 1978 episode “Angel on High,” you’re wearing a particularly revealing bikini to meet Kelly (Jaclyn Smith) for breakfast by a pool. Who picked that out?

Me! That was my rebellion. I had been a good sport up until then, but I was pretty fed up with running around in a bikini all the time. I was someone’s mother! I had to protest, and that was the only way I knew how, because I had already [complained] to Aaron. So I found the tiniest bikini — it was not approved for TV. I looked almost naked in it! The director didn’t know about it, so when I dropped the robe he gasped and said, “Cheryl, we can’t film that bathing suit.” I said, “Well, Aaron wants me in a bikini so this is what he’s going to get. We’re running late and we gotta shoot the scene. Let’s go, I’m not changing.” He filmed the whole scene.

That took a lot of guts.

The show was ranked No. 5 in the first season, and when I came on, we were Nos. 1 and 2. So I felt that I had a little power in that conversation.

Did your bikini make the cut for broadcast?


How did Aaron respond?

He sent me a note through the wardrobe department that said, “Tell the little rebel I got the message and that it won’t happen again, right?” He was mad, but he got it. He didn’t ask nearly as much after that.

Cheryl Ladd will be costarring in the thriller Unforgettable opposite Katherine Heigl in April.

A version of this story appears in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday and available here. Subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.