Angie Dickinson confides that if she had to do it all over again — she might not! “All movies are more hard work than you ever dream,” she tells Closer. “You work from 5:30 in the morning until 6 p.m. at night, if you’re lucky.”

Fortunately for her fans, Angie, 92, did enter show business. In her long career, she starred in dramas, thrillers, westerns and more. “I don’t think I did any comedies — at least not intentionally,” says the actress with a chuckle. On the small screen, Angie also received three Emmy nominations for Police Woman, which she starred on from 1974 to 1978.

Angie confides that she entered the business by accident. “I don’t think I ever thought of myself as being capable of being a great actress like Katharine Hepburn or Bette Davis,” she says. “But when I had the chance to be in a beauty contest, I thought, ‘Oh, that would be fun.’” Angie came in second, but the pageant landed her a role on The Jimmy Durante Show, where she met Frank Sinatra. He would become a romantic partner and lifelong friend. “He had been my heartthrob since he started,” Angie confides. “I don’t think we ever talked marriage, but we did just fine without it.”

In 1959’s Rio Bravo, the film Angie feels is the best of her career, she costarred with Dean Martin and John Wayne. “Everyone only had a great relationship with Dean. He was that easygoing, friendly Gemini cool cat. A darling man! He had a restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, so I already knew him, but not closely,” Angie recalls.

She also developed a great rapport with John, whom she called Duke. “This was his 300th movie, and he was such a pro,” she recalls. “And such a gentleman. I was quite fresh to show business. He would just quietly lean on his rifle and wait for me to get the scene right.”

Angie Dickinson wears black outfit and hat
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for TCM

A Trailblazer, Too

After Angie appeared on a 1974 episode of Police Story, she was offered Police Woman, one of the first hour-long dramas starring a woman. On it, her character often went undercover in disguise. “That was fun. I’d be a hooker or a down-and-outer,” Angie says. She also enjoyed working with guest stars like Joan Collins. “She was on two or three times. She couldn’t have been nicer.”

However the physicality of the role and the long hours began to wear on Angie after the second season. “A TV star works all the time,” she says. “I did 90 shows. They were all interesting, but I wouldn’t recommend doing a TV series to anyone. It’s slave labor.”

Despite the difficulties she endured, Angie feels satisfied by her time in the spotlight. “You always wish you did everything differently,” she says. “But after mulling over all the mistakes and wishes, I ended up standing on my own feet. So it’s OK.”