It’s hard to believe that Cheryl Ladd turned down the chance to join the cast of Charlie’s Angels in 1977. “I was replacing Farrah Fawcett, and she was the biggest star on the planet,” Cheryl exclusively tells Closer. “I thought, ‘How can anyone do that?’” Fortunately, producer Aaron Spelling was persistent, and Cheryl changed her mind. She made her debut as Kris Munroe in the second season. “The most rewarding thing was that it was a big success,” says the actress, 70. “The second season of the show actually had higher ratings than the first. I was so relieved!”
After Charlie’s Angels, Cheryl — who first arrived in California from her native South Dakota to be a singer — became a regular presence on television and in films. Most recently, she starred in A Cowgirl’s Song. “I play a country and western singer who is sort of retired since she lost her husband,” says Cheryl. “She faces some challenges, and then she has to get back up on the horse and do a concert. Filming it was a joyful experience all the way around.”
Keep scrolling below for Cheryl Ladd’s exclusive Q&A interview with Closer!
Many actresses say they have trouble finding roles after age 30, but you are always working. What’s your secret?
“I’m one of those people who still have a name because of Charlie’s Angels — the show is always airing somewhere on the planet! So, I get some nice opportunities, although I am picky. Every now and then I find something I really love like A Cowgirl’s Song.”
What’s special about it?
“It’s a family movie filled with music and entertainment. I feel like that’s something we could all use right now after COVID. A reminder about the importance of family.”
A lot of little girls grew up idolizing you on Charlie’s Angels. Did you have any idols growing up?
“When I was very young, Hayley Mills was my hero. I had an English accent one entire summer because I loved Hayley Mills so much! As I matured, Katharine Hepburn was one of my favorite actresses. And I liked Susan Hayward. She always had kind of an edge. And Grace Kelly, who I got to play in [The Grace Kelly Story,] which my husband produced.”
Do you stay in touch with any of your Charlie’s Angels costars?
“Jaclyn Smith and I talk all the time. She’s a doll. Just a great girl and so fun. You know, for as elegant as she is, she’s also kooky and a goofball. We’d love to find the right project to work together on. A movie about two old friends and all the ups-and-downs of that relationship — how you help each other out in good times and bad.”
We were all saddened by the death of Charlie’s Angels’ Tanya Roberts last year. What was she like?
“It was a real shock. Tanya’s hard to describe, but she was a lot of fun. She spoke like a truck driver. She just made Jaclyn and I laugh so hard. She was outrageous and lovable.”
Who have been some of your other all-time favorite costars?
“That’s hard. I would have to say one of my very favorites was Michael Caine, who is one of the funniest human beings that God ever made. Oh my gosh. He could make me wet my pants laughing, which was unkind of him because we were doing Jekyll & Hyde and I was in a bustle and all these clothes. I said, ‘Stop talking, Michael, stop. Don’t tell me one more joke. I can’t, I can’t take it.’ He was absolutely delightful and hilarious.”
What have been some of your biggest challenges?
“In my career, it was doing four years of Charlie’s Angels with 28 episodes a season. Then on my hiatus, supposedly my rest time, I was doing movies of the week and variety shows. I had a 2-year-old daughter, and I was spinning like a clock. I missed so many times with my daughter. That’s why I didn’t do another series for a very long time after Charlie’s Angels, because I really wanted to be with my daughter, Jordan.”
Are you and Jordan still close?
“We are crazy about each other! It’s just so lovely to be this age and have an adult daughter. She’ll always be my baby, but she’s also one of my very best friends. My other daughter is Lindsay. I’ve been her stepmom, or ‘bonus mom,’ as she calls me, since she was 4.”
Did you worry when Jordan decided to follow in your acting footsteps?
“No. She had a clearer awareness and understanding of the business than I did when I left South Dakota and got to California. She’s also a wonderful actress. I wasn’t surprised by that. It was kind of in the DNA.”
You’ve been married to your husband, Brian Russell, since 1981. What’s your secret for a happy marriage?
“We are both very creative people. We started out as friends, and we’re still madly in love with each other, but we’re also still friends. I think that really keeps the marriage together. I look up to him, I think he’s so talented and his books are so great. He’s got a new one out called The Marble Sea, and it’s getting rave reviews. We both do what we love, and we understand each other’s need for space and time.”
You wrote a book about golf in 2005. Are you planning on writing anything else?
“I’m thinking about doing a sort of autobiography about the big turning points in my life and what I’ve learned. Everybody has ups and downs, and I think other people need to hear that. I think we should be real when we talk about our heartbreaks and growing pains.”
Who do you turn to for support when you need it?
“I’m a Christian. So, I pray. I really turn a lot of myself and my soul and my pain over to the Lord. I find it so helpful for me that I don’t have to just trust myself. I can trust that the Lord has a plan for me. He’s gotten me through all of the bad times, and he is with me joyfully when I’m in the good times. So for me, that has been my rock. I have never really been through it alone.”