Charlie’s Angels not only enchanted boss Charles Townsend with their investigative efforts and beatific charms but also enchanted TV audiences from 1976-81. For Cheryl Ladd as Kris Munroe, the series catapulted her to international fame. Her career since then has ranged from TV to movies to singer to author to Broadway, attaining more than 150 roles.
A Huron, South Dakota native, Cheryl Jean Stoppelmoor showed an early aptitude for singing, dancing, and acting. She took her passions to Los Angeles after high school, and in 1970 got her first break as the singing voice of Melody in the cartoon series “Josie and the Pussycats.”
In 1973 she married David Ladd, son of actor Alan Ladd, giving birth to daughter Jordan in 1975, but the marriage ended in 1980. Cheryl married writer/producer Brian Russell in 1981, and they just celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary earlier this year.
Her next big break, of course, was “Charlie’s Angels,” and the demand for her many talents has not ceased since.
The highlights have been many: her critically acclaimed performances in both the TV miniseries “The Grace Kelly Story” and on Broadway—realizing a professional dream—in “Annie Get Your Gun!”; her other TV shows such as “One West Waikiki,” “Two Guys and a Girl,” and “Las Vegas”; her guest appearances in series like “Chuck,” “NCIS,” “CSI: Miami,” and “Charmed”; and her big screen roles in “Dog of Flanders,” “Poison Ivy,” and “The Search for Santa Paws.”
In addition, she has written two best-selling books: for children, “The Adventures of Little Nettie Windship,” written with husband David; and for golfers, “Token Chick, a Woman’s Guide to Golfing with the Boys,” a droll perspective of her life in golf.
Of paramount importance to Cheryl Ladd since 1979 is her commitment to Childhelp, an international humanitarian charity that prevents and treats child abuse.
NEGM: What are your thoughts on “Charlie’s Angels”?
CL: What a unique experience it was! That first year I was working 14 hours a day and trying to raise a two-year old daughter so I really didn’t have a sense of its magnitude. Then it made me a household name. To know today that the series is still on the air somewhere and that millions around the world still love the show is pretty awesome.
NEGM: Was the “Vegas” series you starred in with James Caan and Josh Duhamel as much fun to film as it was to watch?
CL: Oh, yes, it was a hoot and a half! We had a wonderful time. Working with Josh and Jimmy was great fun, and both are avid golfers, too.
NEGM: What have been your favorite roles over the years?
CL: Interestingly enough, my two favorite roles—and I have been blessed with many excellent parts—were my portrayals of real life women: Grace Kelly and Annie Oakley.
NEGM: What is your latest project?
CL: “The Perfect Wave” filmed in South Africa starring Scott Eastwood. I play Scott’s mother, and the filming was a remarkable time for us all. It’s an inspirational story of a young man in search of the perfect wave and of himself. Should be out in May or June.
NEGM: How did you become involved in Childhelp USA?
CL: When I first learned about child abuse, I was appalled. So, my husband at that time [David Ladd] and I developed a TV movie in 1978 for ABC called “When She Was Bad,” and I played the abusive mother. Then, during a guest appearance on the Dinah Shore Show, I said, “If there is any organization out there that is fighting child abuse, contact me because I want to help.” The founders of Childhelp, Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson, got in touch, and I have been working with them ever since. They have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times, and they are my heroes.
NEGM: Tell us about the Childhelp Celebrity Golf Invitational that you co-sponsor with John O’Hurley.
CL: Our third annual fund raiser was held in February and was a great success because of the remarkable support of the Greater Palm Springs community, in addition to devoted Celebrity friends like Rocky Carroll, Patrick Warburton, Ron Masak, William Devane, Michael Pena, and so many other dear and devoted friends. We raised $152,000, and the money will go to Childhelp’s Merv Griffin Residential Village in Beaumont, CA, where Childhelp tirelessly provides healing treatment and tender loving care to the most at-risk youth in our society. In our three years, Childhelp has received more than $400,000 from our tournament.
NEGM: To what other philanthropic cause have you devoted your time?
CL: We support the Sports Outreach Institute in Africa, which came about by using soccer to spread the Gospel message and to help alleviate human suffering.
NEGM: How did you become interested in golf? Best handicap? Best part of your game?
CL: On a whim one day, David took me to play Rancho Park, just across the street from 20th Century Fox. We played nine holes. I was a dancer, so I kind of figured out a rhythm to the swing and really whacked a few shots. Those shots were like a drug, and I was hooked right away. The best Index I’ve had is 14. The best part of my game is my love for it!
NEGM: Why did you write “Token Chick”? How was it received?
CL: Very few women celebrities had the confidence to play golf in pro-ams or charity events, but when I was invited, I didn’t care if I was bad. I played. Of course, I was the only woman, the token chick, but I always had a great time. Hey, I’ve played with Arnie, Jack, Chi Chi, Freddie, Johnny, Ben, and Peter [Jacobsen]! The book reveals my experiences in golf, and I believe it is the #1 women’s golf book.
NEGM: Favorite courses?
CL: Mauna Lani on the Big Island, Pebble Beach, Royal Dornoch, and St. Andrews.
NEGM: Who would be in your Dream Foursome of today? Of any time period?
CL: Jack, Arnie, and Freddie. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in a match against Katharine Hepburn and me.
NEGM: What have you enjoyed most about your trips to New England?
CL: One of my most precious moments was a fall trip to Maine when I witnessed the Northern Lights. Truly amazing. I also enjoy the seasons changing in New England, something we don’t really have in LA.