Texas beauty Jaclyn Smith gained international fame as one of the original “Charlie’s Angels,” parlaying the show’s successful run into a long string of made-for-television movies and miniseries as well as a highly lucrative line of products for Kmart.
Smith originally dreamed of becoming a professional ballet dancer, getting her first pair of dancing shoes at age 3. As a student at San Antonio’s Trinity University, Smith starred in productions of “Bye, Bye Birdie” and “West Side Story.” She moved to New York to pursue her dancing career, living for a time at the legendary women-only Barbizon Hotel. It wasn’t long before she was discovered by an agent and landed commercials for Listerine and later Breck shampoo.
After a few roles in shows like “Switch” and “McCloud,” Smith landed a lead in Aaron Spelling's “Charlie’s Angels,” a series about three beautiful private detectives. She played Kelly Garrett, a sweet but street-smart orphan with a soft spot for underprivileged children. The series was a huge success, instantly breaking into the Nielsen top 5 in its first season, but it was derided by critics as “jiggle TV” that exploited its sexy female stars. At the time, Smith rejected these criticisms. “What’s wrong with using your femininity to accomplish things? If a man uses his macho, nobody complains,” she said. Smith would be the only one of the original angels to stay with the show for five seasons, during which her character survived not one but two shots to the head.
After “Angels,” Smith tried to break into feature films, but largely ended up sticking with television. In 1981, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the television movie, “Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy,” in which she starred as the iconic first lady. It would be the first of many roles in made-for-TV fare like “Florence Nightingale” and “The Night They Saved Christmas” over the next two decades, earning her a reputation as “Queen of the Mini-Series.” In the 2000s, she returned briefly to series television, starring in “The District” and hosting two seasons of the reality competition show, “Shear Genius.”
The third phase of Smith’s career began in 1985, when she launched a merchandising partnership with Kmart. Starting with women’s apparel and accessories, she later branched out into home decor and perfume. Long before celebrity fashion lines became standard, Smith recognized the power of branding.
Married four times, Smith has two children.