Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Angie Dickinson is Police Woman (1974-1978)

Police Woman was an American Police drama series that starred the beautiful Angie Dickinson that ran on NBC for four seasons, from September 13, 1974, to March 29, 1978. Based on an original screenplay by Lincoln C. Hilburn, the show revolves around Sergeant. "Pepper" Anderson (Angie Dickinson), an undercover police officer working for the Criminal Conspiracy Unit of the Los Angeles Police Department. Sergeant William "Bill" Crowley (Earl Holliman) was her immediate superior, and Pete Royster (Charles Diekrop) and Joe Styles (Ed Bernard) were the other half of the undercover team that investigated everything from murders to rape and drug crimes. In many episodes, Pepper went undercover (as a prostitute, nurse, teacher, flight attendant, prison inmate, dancer, waitress, etc.) in order to get close enough to the suspects to gain valuable information that would lead to their arrest.

Although Dickinson's character was called Pepper, sources differ as to the legal given name of the character. Most sources give the characters legal name as Suzanne. Others give it as Leanne or Lee Ann. The Police Story episode entitled "The Gamble", which serves as a pPeppilot for Police Woman, gives Dickinson's character's name as "Lisa Beaumont". On the Season 1 DVD release of Police Woman, Dickinson states that she and producers decided not to go with the name Lisa Beaumont when the series first went into production and came up with the name Pepper.

Police Woman became the first "successful" hour-long drama series in American primetime television history to feature a woman in the starring role. This helped to make Dickinson a household name.
Police Woman was a spin-off of the Police Story (1973-1978) anthology series. Police Woman was so successful in its first season in particular, that during the first spring and summer rerun period, the show hit number one in the Nielsen's ratings. The success of Dickinson starring in an hour-long TV drama series gave the networks confidence that women can actually carry an hour-long series. This paved the way for more (albeit fanciful) 1970s shows starring women, such as Charlie's Angels, Wonder Woman and The Bionic Woman, as well as the more serious Cagney & Lacey in the 1980s.
"Police Woman" caused an avalanche of applications for employment from women to police departments around the United States. Sociologists who have in recent years examined the inspiration for long-term female law enforcement officials to adopt this vocation as their own have been surprised by how often "Police Woman" has been referenced.
In February 1976, President Gerald Ford re-scheduled a Tuesday press conference so as not to delay an episode of Police Woman, reportedly his favorite show.

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