At 91, Angie Dickinson Endured Losing Her Daughter And Ex-Husband & Now Lives Quiet Life Alone

Angie Dickinson is a legendary actress whose career spans over six decades. She was born on Sept. 30, 1931, in Kulm, North Dakota, as Angeline Brown, the second of three children.

Growing up, Dickinson’s family moved to California, where she attended Glendale High School. She then went on to study at Glendale Community College and later at Immaculate Heart College, where she earned a degree in Business. After college, she worked as a secretary for a few years before deciding to pursue a career in acting.

In 1954, Dickinson made her debut in the film “Lucky Me” in a minor role. She then went on to make appearances in various television shows, including “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp” and “Death Valley Days.”

However, it was her role in the 1959 film “Rio Bravo” that launched her career. Dickinson played the role of Feathers, a flirtatious woman who caught the attention of John Wayne’s character, Sheriff John T. Chance. The film was a huge success, and Dickinson’s performance earned her critical acclaim and established her as a rising star.

Following the success of “Rio Bravo,” Dickinson starred in a string of successful films, including “Ocean’s Eleven” (1960) and “The Sins of Rachel Cade” (1961). In 1967, she starred alongside Lee Marvin in the crime thriller “Point Blank,” which became a cult classic.

Throughout her career, Dickinson worked with prominent directors and actors in the industry, including Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck and William Holden, among others. While her career soared in her youth, Dickinson’s personal life later became marked by struggles and tragedy. Read on to find out more about her private challenges and what she’s been up to in recent years.

While most people nowadays would recognize Dickinson for her outstanding work as an actress, some people might be surprised to find out that she originally started out as a beauty pageant girl. Dickinson came in second place at a Miss America contest in her local area, which ultimately helped her receive the attention of a casting agent. It wasn’t long before she appeared as one of the showgirls on “The Jimmy Durante Show.”

In a perfect domino effect, that job helped Dickinson receive attention from a television-industry producer, which ultimately led her to be cast as a guest star on several variety shows, including “The Colgate Comedy Hour.” And soon enough, Dickinson found herself on the small screen before dominating the silver screen.

Growing up with a love for films and TV shows, Dickinson began her career on the small screen, appearing in several series during the 1950s. It wasn’t long before she landed her breakthrough role in the 1956 Western film “Gun the Man Down,” which earned her the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year.

Shortly after, Dickinson’s career escalated, and she went on to appear in more than 50 films, including “Ocean’s Eleven” with Frank Sinatra, “The Killers” with Ronald Reagan, and “Big Bad Mama.” The latter went on to be one of Dickinson’s most recognized roles in her catalog. Starring alongside William Shatner and Tom Skerritt, Dickinson played the role of a mother named Wilma, who goes on a crime spree with her two daughters and later falls in love with a bank robber. The movie became a cult hit and even inspired a sequel.

From 1974 until 1978, Dickinson starred in a TV series called “Police Woman.” She played Sergeant Leanne “Pepper” Anderson, a tough and no-nonsense police officer who tackled crime on the streets of Los Angeles. Pepper worked as an undercover police officer. The show was a huge success and ran for four seasons.

The show became quite popular and had a long list of special guest stars. Dickinson also received a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama for her role. The role of Pepper was not only impactful on her career but on the career of many other women. According to Inforum, the biggest increase in the percentage of women in the United States becoming police officers occurred during the 1970s. While only 1.4% of police officers were women in 1970, that number jumped to an astonishing 5% by 1980.

While Dickinson was initially loath to take on the part because of the hectic filming schedule, one of the show’s producers convinced her otherwise. “I said, ‘I just can’t, I have a family,’ and he said, ‘Don’t you want to be a household name?’ And that did it – I did want to be,” she told PBS in 2011.

Despite inspiring women with one of the first leading lady roles on television, Dickinson added she “never felt the need for feminism,” and said, “I never felt competition with men, which I really believed started the movement.”

Dickinson further explained, “When I was up for a role, I didn’t compete with men; it was a role for a woman.” Not only that, but the actress admitted that she was “content” with the pay she was given, despite the fact that men in Hollywood tend to make more money than women in the industry.

Even though “Police Woman” was influential, Dickinson wished that the writers and producers would have pushed the boundaries more. “I always felt like our show was too clean,” she explained. She added, “Oh, you killed somebody! And it all worked out very nicely. The plumbing is still working. Everything … all wrapped up, nice and sweet.”

Even if Dickinson wasn’t always a fan of the work she put out, that doesn’t mean that others weren’t proud of her roles. Dickinson has been awarded quite a bit over her career, from small, lesser-known awards to prestigious awards. Back in 1991, she was the recipient of the Rough Rider Award for her career as an actress. The award is presented by the governor of North Dakota and is awarded to North Dakotans.

While Dickinson went on to lead quite a successful career as an actress, she showed off her talents in other areas as well. In 2004, Dickinson, who is an avid poker player, participated in the Bravo TV show “Celebrity Poker Showdown.” The other celebrities who participated in the poker game that Dickinson was a part of were Jeff Gordon, Kathy Griffin, Penn Jillette and Ron Livingston.

Dickinson was also known for her stunning beauty. She was often referred to as the “thinking man’s sex symbol” and a gal pal of the then-notorious Rat Pack. She reportedly carried on a years-long affair with Sinatra and was even linked to John F. Kennedy, but she never had an issue with her public persona.

“If I was a sex symbol, I was very comfortable with it because it was just what I was. I didn’t have to embellish it or work on it or change my style or anything – it was just what I was so, I didn’t have a problem,” she told PBS.

She had been linked to Glenn Ford, Larry King, as well. However, Dickinson spoke more about her alleged relationship with Kennedy and ultimately denied any romantic relationship with him. She explained, “There was no reason or no grounds for thinking that I was seeing him, and I wasn’t.”

On the other hand, Dickinson admitted that she dated Sinatra, and the pair were “very close to getting married in 1964.”

In an interview with Fox News, Dickinson spoke about Sinatra and said, “Well, he’s the love of my life. I just smile because it feels good to think about him. He was an extraordinary talent, to say the least. … When you look at his ability to act and sing, he didn’t always take challenges, but I think he could have sung anything.”

She added, “But he was also an extraordinary man. He was difficult, wonderful, brave and foolish.”

Regarding the marriage that could have been but wasn’t, Dickinson explained, “We actually talked about it.” She continued, “We were so comfortable with each other that it wasn’t really necessary, but it did come up a couple of times. I wasn’t keen on it. I would not have wanted to take that challenge on.”

Dickinson was a trailblazer in Hollywood, breaking barriers and paving the way for future generations. In 1974, she became the first woman to serve as president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which is responsible for organizing the Golden Globe Awards.

Throughout her career as an actress, Dickinson played a variety of roles that relied heavily on seduction and showing off her feminine side. It seems as if her stunning looks and charming personality resonated just as much off the screen as they did on the screen based on her dating history.

Dickinson’s personal life was also the subject of much interest. She was married twice and had one daughter, Nikki Bacharach, in 1966 with her second husband, composer Burt Bacharach, whom she married in 1965. She later recalled she fell for him because “he was so different,” but their union was not a largely happy one.

“He never loved me, I can tell you that right now, the way one loves. He loved in his own way, which is not too good. And so, he had no respect for me,” she told CBS, and added, “He should never have been married.” Despite this, she revealed she “liked him a lot.”

By 1980, the pair were divorced, but tragedy would strike Dickinson again. Her daughter Nikki had been born premature and was later diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a disorder on the autism spectrum. In January 2007, at the age of 40, Nikki took her own life. Following her passing, her parents issued a statement that read: “She quietly and peacefully committed suicide to escape the ravages to her brain brought on by Asperger’s. … She was one of the most beautiful creatures created on this earth, and she is now in the white light, at peace.”

Meanwhile, Dickinson went through more heartache as Burt passed away on Feb. 8, 2023, at the age of 94.

In her later years, Dickinson continued to make rare appearances in shows such as “Desperate Housewives.” She made a most notable cameo in the George Clooney-helmed remake of “Ocean’s Eleven” that thrilled diehard fans.

The TCM Classic Film Festival was held in April 2023, which celebrated various films and their long-lasting legacies. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Dickinson was there on the festival’s opening night to talk about “Rio Bravo.” On working with director Howard Hawks, Dickinson said, “He was a man of few words.” He had instructed her to “just relax” while he “talked about nothing” so she would be in the perfect disposition for the scene.

According to Variety, Dickinson said the process of landing her role in “Rio Bravo” was “spectacular.” She also talked about how much fun she had working with Sinatra and Dean Martin over the course of her career.

“Frank liked to pull tricks on sets, and they always had fun when they worked because of that, but he would watch it so that it never got in the way, basically,” Dickinson said. “But when they were all together, they were pretty naughty.”

Dickinson told Variety she made a “mistake” taking “Police Woman,” as it wore her out. “Because it was four years of getting up at 5 o’clock and working five days a week until midnight on Fridays,” Dickinson said. “That’s a tough job when you have a child or children or a family.”

Now 91, Dickinson lives a quiet life in Los Angeles, alone, rarely making any public appearances, according to CBS. However, that’s just the way she likes it. “I am not looking for work, I don’t really care,” she explained. “I’ve had my day in the sun, and I am very content.”

As for her late daughter and late second husband, it’s safe to say their memories will always be with Dickinson.

What are your thoughts on Angie Dickinson’s legacy? Which of her performances did you find the most memorable? Let us know and pass this on to family and friends who could use a reminder about the beautiful star.

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