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Guest Programmer - Angie Dickinson
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Angie Dickinson Profile

A former secretary who drifted into a beauty contest in order to win a watch, Dickinson won several other such contests, which led to her feature debut in 1954. With her chestnut brown hair, large eyes and healthy good looks, Dickinson first played wholesome roles, but her husky voice and oft-displayed legs suggested a move to tougher, more sultry parts. An early example of this was the half-Chinese combatant against the Vietcong which she played in Samuel Fuller's typically bizarre action pic, "China Gate" (1957). Dickinson's real breakthrough role, though, and arguably the most important feature role of her career, came soon after when she played Feathers, a quintessential Howard Hawks heroine, trading sharp repartee with leathery John Wayne in Hawks's acclaimed Western, Rio Bravo (1959).

During the early 1960s Dickinson was played up as a major new movie star, but her films were invariably routine, ranging from the strained sex farce "Jessica" (1961) to the quasi-political melodrama of "A Fever in the Blood" (1961) to the Belgian Congo-set sudser, The Sins of Rachel Cade (1961) to the western, Tension at Table Rock (1965). Now blonde, she was used largely for ornamental purposes, and was consequently displaced in favor of other decorative heroines as the decade progressed. She still played leads and gave decent, professional performances, but as early as 1965 ceded the top femme spot to Elke Sommer in "The Art of Love" and to Jane Fonda in "The Chase". One of her most memorable films from this time was John Boorman's early triumph Point Blank (1967), though Dickinson also enjoyed herself immensely as a Depression-era criminal in Roger Corman's Big Bad Mama (1974).

Dickinson had first appeared on TV in the early 50s and even tried a series ("Men Into Space" 1959-60), but only became really prolific in the medium in the late 60s. Many of her TV-movies (The Love War 1970, Pray for the Wildcats 1974, A Touch of Scandal 1984) have been strictly small-screen fodder, but they also include the strangely plotted "See the Man Run" (1971); Overboard (1978), with its surprisingly grim finale; and Jealousy (1984), with Dickinson cutting loose in three roles. Her biggest TV success, though, came with the hit action drama, "Police Woman" (1974-78). Here a middle-aged Dickinson, so at home in self-sufficient roles, looked sensational and enjoyed her gutsy if routine heroics as the seductive Pepper. Much of her subsequent work has, in fact, called on her to supply a brand of middle-aged sex appeal, most memorably (and controversially) Brian De Palma's lurid psycho-thriller Dressed to Kill (1980). She continued playing leading roles in occasional TV-movies, including a turn as a memorably villainous mother-in-law in the silly postmodern pastiche "Wild Palms" (1993). Dickinson returned to features as a nasty rancher in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1994) and as Lauren Holly's socialite mother in Sydney Pollack's remake of Sabrina (1995).

Biographical data provided by TCMdb

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