Question: Could you tell me the name of the character that Angie Dickinson played in Police Woman? Thanks. — Terry
Televisionary: Ms. Dickinson played Sgt. Suzanne "Pepper" Anderson in the series, which ran on NBC from September 1974 through August 1978, Terry. Anderson was an undercover LAPD vice cop who worked with colleagues Joe Styles (Ed Bernard) and Pete Royster (Charles Dierkop) under the command of Lt. Bill Crowley (Earl Holliman). (For those of you who didn't get enough of my exhaustive answer on pilots in the April 24 column, the show first aired as an episode of Police Story before getting its own slot.)
The funny thing is that when Dickinson shot the Police Story episode, entitled "The Gamble," she had no intention of returning to a regular series gig. Married to musician Burt Bacharach and raising an eight-year-old took up plenty of her time; she insisted on a contract guaranteeing her only four and a half days of toil per week and a workday that ended at 6 pm. Fat chance. "[S]ome days I'm very sorry I got into this," she told TV Guide in 1975 as a shooting day stretched until close to midnight. "I enjoy being the leading character in this series, but I'm beginning to feel like I'm the only character."
Mind you, the lady's consistent. Nearly two decades earlier, when the magazine decided to trail a young actress for a season and chose the then 23-year-old as she was just starting her career, she already was downplaying any small-screen aspirations. At the time, she'd worked a few appearances on Matinee Theater (for a whopping $350 to $600 a pop) and had also shown up in roles on Wyatt Earp, Meet Millie, G.E. Theater and The Line-Up. But she served notice: Don't get used to it. "I just wasn't ready to tie myself down to a series," she said of turning down steady work opposite ex-football star Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch in a proposed show about (what else?) a football coach. "I still want and need the experience you can get only from a variety of roles."
Nevertheless, the star, who came up through the big-screen industry starring in such films as Rio Bravo, Ocean's Eleven and Point Blank, was happy to play the part rather than wear a badge herself. She got a taste of the risks involved when she visited a Hollywood precinct to take some publicity photos (keep in mind that most of Hollywood itself is not the glitzy wonderland you'd think it is — and it was far worse back then) and departed just before a shootout that took a man's life. "We had just left that station and were eating lunch across the street when we heard gunfire," she said. "That's as close as I want to get to being a real police woman."