News Sports Life Opinions Photos Video Entertainment Obituaries  

Most popular stories from USA TODAY

  1. HF Test1036.13:45:43.5042404
Cheryl Ladd finds her inner frontier woman
Updated 9/29/2011 3:46 PM ET
Cheryl Ladd may have played a convincing Charlie's Angel, but she is a pioneer woman at heart.

In Love's Everlasting Courage (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET/PT, Hallmark Channel), she plays a grandmother whose frontier family is overwhelmed with tragedies.

"The film is a reminder of how this country was formed and brought forward," says the 60-year-old actress. "There's an amazing spirit of family and faith."

Ladd can relate to the film's message. "I've always been a strong family advocate," she says. "I had a wonderful family growing up. This film reminded me of my personal roots as a child, the kind of people I was raised with in South Dakota. …There were nine children in my father's family and eight in my mother's. My grandparents did the best with what they had. After the Depression, they were scratching out a living and working hard. They kept the family going."

Ladd first made her way to Hollywood in 1969 hoping to launch a career in music — but wound up replacing Farrah Fawcett in the second year of Charlie's Angels. The singing and dancing recognition she always wanted never came, but she insists that she is not bitter. "You have to make peace with life," she says. "I was involved with something that was that iconic and successful and people still love. …Was it the career trajectory that I'd dreamed of? Maybe not, but I'm certainly not complaining. I'm just astounded by the show's resilience. I've had a 30-year career, and I've had a family."

Ladd's daughter 36-year-old daughter Jordan, with first husband, producer David Ladd, is also an actress. She also has a stepdaughter, Lindsay Russell, 34, with her second husband, producer Brian Russell.

"There were some directors who wouldn't meet with me," Ladd says, recalling her struggle to move ahead after Charlie's Angels ended. "Ask any actress who became famous on TV. Now it's not nearly the way it was then. There was a real clear delineation of TV and film people."

When it comes to the new Charlie's Angels launching on ABC this fall, Ladd says "it's terrific. I wish them great success. It's not going to hurt anybody."

But the culture has changed since the original Angels aired. "Compared to what's on TV now, we were like three grown-up Girl Scouts," says Ladd. "The other message that I hope resonated is that the women really supported and loved each other. They were in it together, and there's something to be said for that….although some think it's more exciting when people fight."

Since the series ended 30 years ago, Ladd has been a regular on One West Waikiki and Las Vegas. She has also appeared in nearly three dozen TV movies.

The chance to play a grandmother in Love's Everlasting Courage appealed to Ladd because she is a grandmother herself. "I liked the whole idea of playing an (old-fashioned) grandmother," she says, "not a present-day grandmother, who has the ability to hide behind hairdressers and make-up. Grandmothers on the prairie had to shine from the inside out."

Ladd based the character on her own mother and grandmother. "My mother could do absolutely anything. She was like Martha Stewart before such a thing existed," says Ladd. "She remodeled our house. I remember one Saturday morning when she handed my sister and me hammers and said, 'Girls, we're going to knock this wall out.' There was no lack of interesting things to do and learn."

That practicality seems to run in the family. "I've painted things in my house," says Ladd. "And I'm pretty good with a screwdriver and a hammer. My mother, grandmother and older sister all cooked, so it was hard to get into the kitchen. So I have no talent for cooking. I was always out in the garage with my dad. I have a tool belt. I'm a repair chick."

Like most actresses past the age of 50, good roles are hard to find. "I'd like to find something to do with my daughter Jordan, something real and gritty but surprising," she says. "And Jaclyn Smith and I are trying to work on a project together. With all the baby boomers out there, they're going to want to see people they can relate to. So maybe (opportunities) will get better."

She's also taking steps to stay active. " My mother has rheumatoid arthritis. I don't want to lose the ability to jump up and walk across the room or move around with the energy I'm used to having. That's far more important to me than a wrinkle or two."

Posted 9/29/2011 3:43 PM ET
Updated 9/29/2011 3:46 PM ET
Actress Cheryl Ladd attends the 15th annual Race to Erase MS event at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on May 2, 2008 in Los Angeles.
By David Livingston, Getty Images
Actress Cheryl Ladd attends the 15th annual Race to Erase MS event at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on May 2, 2008 in Los Angeles.

Home | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | About Us | Work for Us | Subscribe

Users of this site agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights