Stars From Charlie's Angels You Didn't Know Died

When ABC Entertainment President Fred Silverman green-lit the action drama "Charlie's Angels" in 1976, he probably never foresaw its impact on pop culture decades later. More immediately, he believed the show, which highlighted the exploits of three female private eyes working for a reclusive, well-to-do detective on cases that required "the feminine touch," would pump up the network's sagging ratings during the mid-'70s. It worked, ushering in a "Jiggle TV" movement that profiled women as scantily clad eye candy, a formula later duplicated in similar ABC fare like "Three's Company" and "The Love Boat." Feminists at the time were likely appalled.

But over the years, "Charlie's Angels" may have also unwittingly laid the foundation for next-gen, butt-kicking female protagonists. During the show's five-season run, the focus was already shifting towards strong female characters, from Lynda Carter's portrayal of the comic book sensation "Wonder Woman" to Sigourney Weaver's gutsy Eleanor Ripley in the "Alien" movie franchise. "'Charlie's Angels', for me, is one of the original brands to celebrate the empowered woman," Elizabeth Banks — who directed the feature film reboot in 2019 — told Psychologies magazine (via Celebretainment).

Sadly, the majority of the stars who kicked off the first season of the original "Charlie's Angels" TV show, such as Farrah Fawcett, aren't around to enjoy such latter-day heroines as Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Sonequa Martin-Green ("Star Trek: Discovery"). The show also featured a massive roster of guest stars who were popular in their own right and have also sadly died.

Vic Morrow (1929-1982)

Vic Morrow played characters on both sides of the law, one as a sleazy casino owner and the other as an undercover cop in episodes of "Charlie's Angels."  Though the roles were quite different from one another, both accentuated Morrow's tough guy image, one that he cultivated ever since his first stint as a wiseguy teen in the 1955 movie, "Blackboard Jungle."

Best known as battle-hardened Sgt. Saunders in the '60s platoon outing "Combat!," he rarely showed his warm and fuzzy side, even during his guest spots on "Mission: Impossible," "The F.B.I.," and the '70s anthology cop series, "Police Story." While he made a name for himself with his tough guy persona, the actor was actually quite the opposite behind the scenes. According to his "Combat!" co-star, Rick Jason, per CBS News, "Vic hated guns. I asked him to go skeet shooting with me one day, and he said he couldn't stand to kill clay."

In 1982, Morrow was working on the final scene of the anthology horror movie, "Twilight Zone: The Movie," when tragedy struck. During a pursuit scene, a helicopter crashed on the set, decapitating Morrow and killing two child actors. Four people involved in making the movie, including director Jon Landis and director Steven Spielberg, were charged with involuntary manslaughter, but were eventually acquitted, in what was one of the most heavily covered trials at the time. Lawsuits from the families of the deceased were also settled out of court. Morrow was 53.

Robert Reed (1932-1992)

Although actor Robert Reed will forever be remembered as Mike Brady, the patriarch in the family-friendly '70s sitcom "The Brady Bunch," the bulk of his acting resume consisted of dramas. One of those more action-oriented experiences included "One Love ... Two Angels," a two part installment of "Charlie's Angels," where he played a homicidal nephew of a millionaire who believed one of the Angels was his long-lost daughter.

Such juicy fare was likely his way of moving on from "The Brady Bunch," a show that Reed reportedly hated. He once told People, "To the degree that it serves as a baby-sitter, I'm glad we did it. But I do not want it on my tombstone."

Reed, who first got noticed in the '60s as a brash lawyer in "The Defenders" and in a recurring role in "Dr. Kildare," also played police officer Adam Tobias in the detective series "Mannix," followed by roles in the groundbreaking series, "Rich Man Poor Man" and the epic historical drama, "Roots." But his contempt for "The Brady Bunch" didn't stop him from taking part in a few televised variety spin-offs of the program and a short-lived '90s revival series called "The Bradys." His death in 1992 from complications brought on by AIDS revealed another part of the actor's life that was most likely unknown by his fans: that he was gay. He was only 59 when he died from cancer. 

Dick Sargent (1930-1994)

Dick Sargent was usually seen on TV as a mild-mannered corporate type, although his roles on "Charlie's Angels" allowed him to flex his acting muscles. His five episodic appearances had him play a casino entertainer connected to a string of murders, a roller derby team owner, and an insurance adjuster trying to recover stolen statues. 

Sargent was better known as Darrin Stevens, an advertising executive and husband to Elizabeth Montgomery's sorceress character in the '60s sitcom "Bewitched." But the success of the series forever branded Sargent as "the New Darrin," as he succeeded the role's previous actor, Dick York. Still, that didn't stop him from landing other TV gigs, including guests spots on shows like "Three's Company," "Taxi," and "Fantasy Island."

Long before LGBTQ and non-binary identities would invade the popular lexicon, Sargent was also recognized for being a trailblazing advocate of gay rights, often working AIDS humanitarian initiatives when he came out himself in 1991. "I don't have AIDS," he once said to "Entertainment Tonight" (via the Tampa Bay Times). "I am HIV-negative. But if I did, I would wear that badge as proudly as everybody else who has it." Sargent was 64 when he died of prostate cancer.

David Doyle (1929-1997)

Despite the constantly rotating lineups of Angel gumshoes, the series did have a few constants. Jaclyn Smith as Angel Kelly Garrett starred in every episode. So did David Doyle, whose portrayal of affable-yet-bumbling aide John Bosley started as a comedic foil, but wound up being one of the show's most beloved characters, even nabbing an Emmy nomination in 1977.

"We thought that the character of Bosley should be your favorite uncle," recalled "Charlie's Angels" producer Leonard Goldberg to the Television Academy Foundation. "The guy you were always pleased to see, who always made you smile, and who always made you feel good and David Doyle just had those qualities about him."

Doyle was prolific on screen and on stage (his first love), finding work on TV shows like "Lois and Clark" and "All In the Family" and such movies as ”Capricorn One” and ”Paper Lion.” He put his gravelly voice to more authoritative effect as a Catholic patriarch in the 1972 sitcom "Bridget Loves Bernie," which centered on a romance between a Jewish cab driver and his affluent Catholic wife. Despite positive ratings, CBS cancelled the show after several Catholic and Jewish groups objected to the series highlighting "the concept of a mixed marriage." Until his death at 67 of a heart attack, Doyle was still working, adding his voice to the animated series "Rugrats" as Grandpa Lou Pickles.

Lloyd Bochner (1924-2005)

Lloyd Bochner playing a hit man and a sadistic killer in two "Charlie's Angels" episodes must have caught the attention of series producer Aaron Spelling, who later cast him in the '80s corporate drama "Dynasty." It was an unnerving reunion of sorts, since Bochner, as business tycoon Cecil Colby, regularly squared off against oil baron Blake Carrington, played by John Forsythe — who portrayed Charles Townsend in "Charlie's Angels."

Playing a power-seeking antagonist, Bochner easily slipped into his role, enhancing his reputation to play a "sophisticated bad guy," his signature character in several movie and television outings. After "Dynasty," Bochner was rarely out of work, even landing recurring roles on such TV shows as "Battlestar Galactica," "Murder, She Wrote," and "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." Despite the plethora of villains he portrayed, Bochner helped set up the Committee to End Violence, created to deal with such acts depicted on TV.

He was well-equipped for the challenge, having won a number of acting awards in his native Canada before seeking his fortune in the U.S., where he landed supporting roles on TV. But one show in particular forever immortalized Bochner in pop culture trivia. A 1962 "The Twilight Zone" episode titled "To Serve Man" featured Bochner as a decoding specialist trying to translate a manual presented by visiting, philanthropic aliens, only to discover too late that "It's a cookbook!" Bochner was 81 when he died of cancer.

Gene Barry (1919-2009)

Gene Barry was cast for his eccentricity in two episodes of "Charlie's Angels," one as an abducted nightclub owner and the other as a veteran actor rehearsing with an ensemble on a seemingly haunted soundstage. Good choice, since Barry was best known for playing quirky, highfalutin characters throughout his extensive career. 

One sterling example of his dapper sensibilities was playing the title character Bat Masterson in the classic '50s Western TV series, wearing a derby instead of the requisite Stetson. "The costume dictated my performance," Barry once said (per The Guardian). "It changed my life. Every role I've done since has been a guy who looked good in clothes."

A few years later, Barry was dressed to the nines as Amos Burke in "Burke's Law," a crime drama about an opulent police captain who solved mysteries from the back seat of his Rolls-Royce. That upper-crust flirtation continued when Barry played a swinging magazine publisher in the '60s drama, "The Name of the Game." In 1983, he put those sophisticated traits to work as a gay nightclub owner in the original Broadway production of "La Cage Aux Folles." Barry managed to grab several supporting roles in movies and television, even reprising his Amos Burke role, this time promoted to chief of police, in a short-lived "Burke's Law" reboot in 1994. Barry was 90 when he died of congestive heart failure.

Farrah Fawcett (1947-2009)

Farrah Fawcett lasted only one season playing Jill Munroe on "Charlie's Angels," yet she still remains the ultimate face of the series. The Corpus Christi, Texas native — who got into showbiz via modeling and TV commercials — was still an upstart when cast in the series. It helped that she was married to TV icon Lee Majors, even nabbing a few cameos in his hit series, "The Six Million Dollar Man."

But from the first "Angels" episode (in which she was billed as Farrah Fawcett-Majors), her fame quickly eclipsed that of her husband, thanks to a wavy mane and a provocative poster that turned her into a mini-industry. She quickly became hip to the pandemonium. "When the show was number three, I figured it was our acting," she once said (per The Guardian). "When it got to be number one, I decided it could only be because none of us wears a bra."

But Fawcett's decision to leave the show in 1977 sparked a lawsuit from producers, until she agreed to appear in a few cameos. A few years later she left Majors for an on-again, off-again relationship with actor Ryan O'Neal. Landing parts in movie disasters like "Sunburn" and "Saturn 3," her career nose-dived, until she received some validation as an actor in more serious outings like "The Burning Bed" and "Small Sacrifices." Her lengthy bout with cancer put her in the headlines once more, capped by her death in 2009. She was 62.

John Forsythe (1918-2010)

John Forsythe was just one episode shy of sharing the distinction with David Doyle and Jaclyn Smith as being the only "Charlie's Angels" cast members to star in every episode. But he had the easy part, supplying the voice of detective agency boss Charles Townsend. According to Jack Condon and David Hofstede's tome, "Charlie's Angels Casebook," (via TV Guide) his relationship with the show started when producer Aaron Spelling called him for help when the original Charlie voice artist didn't work out. "I didn't even take my pyjamas off," Forsythe said. "I just put on my topcoat and drove over to Fox. When it was finished, Aaron said, 'That's perfect.' And I went home and went back to bed."

Forsythe was far more visible as Denver-based oil baron Blake Carrington in "Dynasty," a soapy drama series that ran for nine seasons starting in 1981. His stoic figure and weather-beaten voice made him an ideal choice to play power-oriented characters, from a naval officer in the Broadway version of "Mr. Roberts," to a CIA operative in the movie "Topaz," to a beleaguered politician in flicks like "Kitten With A Whip" and "Madame X."

He enjoyed earlier TV success as a suave lawyer in "Bachelor Father" and a father to his real-life wife and children in the short-lived '60s sitcom "The John Forsyth Show." Ironically, some of his final stints included reprising Charlie in "Charlie's Angels" and "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle." Forsythe was 92 when he died from cancer.

Gary Collins (1938-2012)

In his prime, Gary Collins had the looks to pull off almost anything, which made him ideal to play a suave professor and a wealthy jewel thief and killer during two guest spots on "Charlie's Angels." But back in the '60s, he apparently needed more than photogenic attributes to get his career off the ground. His first prime-time effort was "The Wackiest Ship in the Army," which sunk after one season, followed by a Western called "Iron Horse" that ran out of steam after two years on the tube. And even though his resume included getting work in major flicks "The Longest Day" and "Airport," which were both nominated for Best Picture Oscars that same decade, they were minuscule roles. 

But after years earning a living on guest roles, Collins discovered he had the appearances and personality to anchor an afternoon fluff news program. He found stability in 1980 as the host of daytime variety show "Hour Magazine," which ran for 10 years and earned him an Emmy win in 1983. On the side and even after "Hour Magazine" folded, he still managed to snare guest gigs, his last one being a 2009 episode of "Dirty Sexy Money."

Collins was 74 when he died of natural causes. 

Soon-Tek Oh (1932-2018)

When the "Charlie's Angels" entourage went to solve cases in Hawaii, they could always count on Lt. Torres of the Oahu Police Department to help sleuth out crimes that included assaults, murder, kidnapping, and smuggling, some of them on the state's picturesque beaches. Korean actor Soon-Tek Oh, who played the lawman, was equally in-demand for other prime-time dramas, having appeared in such shows as "Hawaii Five-O," "Kung-Fu," "Magnum P.I.," "M*A*S*H," and "Touched by an Angel."

The actor — who later in life provided the voice for wise elder Fa Zhou in the animated movies "Mulan" and Mulan 2" — garnered additional exposure in several high-profile movies, like "Beverly Hills Ninja," "Missing In Action 2," and the 007 flick "The Man With the Golden Gun." "My agent asked me if I would like to be in a James Bond picture," Oh said about his role (per The Hollywood Reporter). "I was a bit audacious when I was younger, so I said, 'I don't do a laundry man, gardener or house boy.'"

According to The New York Times, Oh — a native of South Korea who moved to the U.S. to further his studies in acting — never took much of a liking to portraying Asian stereotypes, though he accepted those gigs anyway. Still, he found time to found organizations like Society of Heritage Performers and the East West Players theater group to foster more acting opportunities for Asian-American actors. Oh was 85 when he died of Alzheimer's.

David Ogden Stiers (1942-2018)

One small footnote in the "Charlie's Angels" saga belongs to actor David Ogden Stiers, although it could have morphed into a much bigger footprint. Stiers appeared in the 1976 pilot episode of the series as Scott Woodville, a taciturn subordinate of Charles Townsend and John Bosley's boss. He inexplicably disappeared after that episode, leaving Bosley to manage all internal affairs himself.

Being cut from the series wasn't a huge loss for Stiers, who a year later was signed to fill a roster spot left vacant by Larry Linville in the TV version of "M*A*S*H," playing pompous surgeon Charles Winchester. While his character was an occasionally adversarial foil in the sitcom, other stars of the show recalled him fondly. "David Ogden Stiers. I remember how you skateboarded to work every day down busy LA streets," tweeted "M*A*S*H" star Alan Alda, when he heard that Stiers had died. "How, once you glided into Stage 9, you were Winchester to your core. How gentle you were, how kind, except when devising the most vicious practical jokes. We love you, David. Goodbye."

After "M*A*S*H," Stiers was never lacking for work, grabbing roles in such movies as "The Man With One Red Shoe" and "Harry's War," TV shows like "The Dead Zone" and "Stargate: Atlantis," and voiceover work in projects that included "Justice League" and "Lilo and Stitch." Stiers was still committed to gigs when he died of bladder cancer in 2018. He was 75.

René Auberjonois (1940-2019)

"Charlie's Angels" fans may not have recognized René Auberjonois when he twice had guest roles on the show, first as a killer of a clairvoyant and later as a sleazy roller rink owner. But they certainly noticed the Tony Award-winning actor years later, when he came to prominence as Clayton Endicott III, the arrogant government chief of staff frequently at odds with lead actor Robert Guillaume in "Benson." The role even earned him an Emmy Award nomination. Sci-fi fans are more likely to recall Auberjonois as Odo, a shape-shifting head of security overlooking a remote station during the seven-season run of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."

"This is a terrible loss," "Star Trek" luminary George Takei tweeted in part when he heard about Auberjoinois' death in 2019. "He was a wonderful, caring, and intelligent man. He shall be missed. When I look out to the stars, I shall think of you, friend." Auberjonois also shared the small screen with another "Star Trek" legend, William Shatner, in four seasons of the drama "Boston Legal," starting in 2004. Auberjonois didn't limit his talents to TV and Broadway, either. He also played the original Father Mulcahy in the movie, "M*A*S*H," directed by Robert Altman, in 1970. 

Auberjonois was 79 when he died of metastatic lung cancer.

Tanya Roberts (1949-2021)

Tanya Roberts didn't create much of an impression during the final season of "Charlie's Angels," being the latest actor to snare a role on a show rife with casting changes. "That's the way every job is, I guess," she said on "The Tonight Show." "There was someone before you, there'll be somebody after you." Nobody succeeded Roberts during her tenure on "Charlie's Angels," however, as the show was cancelled in 1981, after she had only starred in 16 episodes.

After the series, she enjoyed a more lucrative career starring in fantasy adventures like "The Beastmaster" and "Sheena: Queen of the Jungle." In 1985, Roberts struck gold in the James Bond thriller "A View To A Kill," but she wasn't able to take advantage of the 007 hype for long, subsequently spending several years working in B-movies like "Twisted Justice" and "Sins of Desire."

Roberts made another comeback in 1998 when she was cast on the hit "That '70s Show," playing hot mom Midge Pinciotti. "I had hardly anything to do in the interview," she recalled when reading for the part. "It was just this couple of lines, but it worked out." She worked for five seasons on the show, but left in 2001 to care for her ailing husband, fellow actor Barry Roberts, who died five years later. In 2021, Roberts died in Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles from a severe urinary tract infection. She was 65.