Growing up in tiny Klum, North Dakota, Angie Dickinson loved movies. Her father was the projectionist at the local theater, and she got in for free. Then, one day, “the theater burned down,” Angie previously recalled on CBS News’ Sunday Morning. “And we cried for a week.”
It was only the first of several losses Angie, now 87, sustained. But she became an international star thanks to her work in films like Rio Bravo and The Killers as well as her iconic TV role as Sgt. Pepper Anderson on the ’70s hit Police Woman.
Her personal life also attracted attention, as she had high-profile romances with Frank Sinatra and Johnny Carson and an ill-fated marriage to songwriter Burt Bacharach. Though it all, she’s endured. “I ended up standing on my feet,” she exclusively told Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “So it’s OK.”
After her family moved from North Dakota to California, Angie won a beauty contest and earned a guest spot on The Colgate Comedy Hour with Frank. “That was it,” Angie recalled to CBS News. “I said, ‘This is for me.’”
She later costarred with Frank and the rest of the Rat Pack in Ocean’s 11. “We got very close to getting married,” Angie said. “He said, ‘I’m not going to marry an actress,’ and I said, ‘Well, I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.’ I actually didn’t want to marry him. And I didn’t want him to ask me to marry him, because I didn’t want to say no to Frank Sinatra.”
When Burt proposed in 1965, Angie said yes. Their 15 years together were turbulent. “He never should have been married,” Angie, who eventually tired of Burt’s infidelities, said. “He never loved me. He had no respect for me.”
The union produced a daughter, Lea Nikki, who was born three months prematurely in 1966 and suffered from chronic illnesses and mental-health issues. She committed suicide in 2007 at age 40. “She was very smart, funny and wonderful, so all my memories of her are my best memories,” Angie said. “She had no coping skills, so she just took her life. She couldn’t take it anymore. She was a wonderful gift.”
She may never have earned the acclaim of some peers — “I never thought of myself as a great actress, but I always thought I had a little somethin’,” she told Closer — but Angie accomplished a great deal in her career, not the least of which was inspiring many women to enter law enforcement with Police Woman. “It was great to be a cop in charge, with power and control, fighting for goodness,” she said.
Regrets? She has a few. “You wish you had done everything differently,” she told Closer. But looking back over her career, she said, “I’ve had a great time. Everyone should be so lucky. For me, it’s been a wealth of joy.”
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