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Kate Jackson Bio
Kate Jackson (born October 29, 1948) is an American actress, director, and producer, best known for her role as Sabrina Duncan in the popular 1970s television series Charlie’s Angels. She is a three-time Emmy Award nominee and four-time Golden Globe Award nominee.
Jackson began her career in the late 1960s in summer stock at the Stowe Playhouse in Stowe, Vermont, before landing her first major TV roles in Dark Shadows (1970–71) and The Rookies (1972-76). She also appeared in the film Night of Dark Shadows (1971).
On March 21, 1976, Jackson first played Sabrina Duncan in Charlie’s Angels, alongside Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith. The show aired as a movie of the week before debuting as a series on September 22, 1976. The huge success of the show saw the three actresses appear on the front cover of Time. Jackson received two Emmy nominations for her role, before leaving in 1979 after three seasons.
Jackson starred for four years in the TV series Scarecrow and Mrs. King (1983–87). For this role, she won three Bravo Golden Otto awards in Germany for Best Female TV star from 1986-88. She also co-produced the series through her production company, Shoot the Moon Enterprises Ltd. She then starred in the short-lived television adaptation of the film Baby Boom (1988–89). Also in the 1980s, she starred in the films Making Love (1982) and Loverboy (1989).
She has continued to star in numerous TV movies including, Quiet Killer (1992), Empty Cradle (1993), and Satan’s School for Girls (2000), a remake of the 1973 TV movie of the same name in which Jackson also starred.
In 1975, Jackson met with Rookies producers Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg to discuss her contractual obligation to star in another television series for Spelling/Goldberg Productions upon that show’s cancellation. Goldberg told her of a series that was available—because “every network has passed on it”, The Alley Cats. Spelling said that when he told Jackson the title of the series had to be changed and asked her what she would like to call it, she replied, Charlie’s Angels, pointing to a picture of three female angels on the wall behind Spelling. Jackson was originally cast as Kelly Garrett (which ultimately went to her co-star Jaclyn Smith), but decided upon Sabrina Duncan instead. The huge success of the show saw Jackson, Smith and Farrah Fawcett (who played Jill Munroe) appear on the front cover of Time Magazine.
At the beginning of the third season of Charlie’s Angels, Jackson was offered the Meryl Streep role in the feature film Kramer vs Kramer (1979), but was forced to turn it down because Spelling told her that they were unable to rearrange the hit show’s shooting schedule to give her time off to do the film. At the end of the third season, Jackson left the show saying, “I served it well and it served me well, now it’s time to go.”
In 1982, Jackson starred opposite her Rookies co-star, Michael Ontkean, and Harry Hamlin in the feature film Making Love, directed by Arthur Hiller. It was a movie some considered to be ahead of its time, and attempted to deal sensitively with the topic of homosexuality. However, it received tepid reviews and did poorly at the box office.
In 1983, Jackson accepted the starring role in Scarecrow and Mrs. King, a one-hour action drama in which she played housewife Amanda King opposite Bruce Boxleitner‘s spy, code-named “Scarecrow”. Jackson also co-produced the series with Warner Brothers Television through her production company, Shoot the Moon Enterprises. It was during this series that she developed a keen interest in directing. When asked on the set one afternoon “What do you do tomorrow?”, Jackson replied, “I don’t work, I just direct.” Scarecrow and Mrs. King was on the air from 1983–1987.
During filming of the show’s fourth season, in January 1987, Jackson elected to receive a mammogram for the first time, a test which led to the diagnosis of a small malignant tumor. This time, her series’ producer—the only person she told about the diagnosis—worked with her to reschedule her work on the show. Checking into a hospital under an alias, her course of action was to undergo a lumpectomy. Jackson returned to the series a week later, working with the aid of painkillers through five weeks of radiation treatments.
Receiving a “clean bill of health”, Jackson followed up the cancelled Scarecrow and Mrs. King by taking on the main role in Baby Boom, a 1988 TV sitcom version of the original movie starring Diane Keaton, but it lasted only one season.
In 1989, she starred in the film Loverboy playing Patrick Dempsey‘s mother. She had taken the job in order to work with the director, Joan Micklin Silver, having admired the work Silver had done on the film Hester Street.
In September 1989, another mammogram indicated residual breast cancer which the previous operation had missed. This time the course of action was a partial mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. “The range of emotions you go through is amazing”, she says. “But I made a conscious decision to be positive.” Jaclyn Smith cancelled a trip to New York City, meeting Jackson at her doctor’s office before she checked into the hospital. “I’d been crying before I got there,” says Smith. “Then I saw Kate, and she had a smile on her face. She said, ‘We’ve gotten through other things, like divorces, and we’ll get through this.’ And we did.” When Jackson awoke after surgery, “The first thing I heard was good news. My lymph nodes were clean.” Back at home she read medical journals, switched to a macrobiotic diet and came to terms with her reconstructive surgery. “I’m never going to have the perfect body”, she says. “I’m not into facelifts and lip poufs. But I can wear a strapless evening gown, a bustier or whatever is required for a part.”
Jackson starred in several TV movies over the next several years, while working for breast cancer awareness. In 1995, on the heels of a night filming schedule on location, she checked herself into an Alabama hospital for tests due to a feeling of malaise and an inability to sleep. After several tests, Dr. Gerald Pohost, now head of cardiology at U.S.C., diagnosed that Jackson had been born with an atrial septal defect, a tiny hole in her heart which had previously gone undetected despite Jackson’s active lifestyle. She underwent open heart surgery to correct the defect, although as cardiologist Dr. P. K. Shah related in a February 3, 2006, appearance with Jackson on Larry King Live, the current treatment no longer involves surgery.
She has appeared in TV movies and has made numerous guest appearances on TV. She dialed down her professional pursuits when her son, Charles Taylor Jackson, was adopted in 1995. She stated at the time, “I don’t see how I can go about a directing career and be a good mom at the same time. And if I’m not a good mom, I don’t think it matters much what else I do well.”
She has dedicated herself to speaking out on the subjects of breast cancer and heart health and in 2003, was awarded the “Power of Love” award by the American Heart Association for her work.
In 2004, the television film Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Charlie’s Angels aired, with actress Lauren Stamile portraying Jackson. In August 2006, Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith, the three original Angels, appeared together in a surprise appearance at the Emmy Awards in a tribute to the recently deceased Spelling at the Shrine Auditorium.
Jackson played Elizabeth Prentiss, the mother of FBI Agent Emily Prentiss (played by Paget Brewster) on Criminal Minds. In August 2008, she was a guest judge on an episode of Jaclyn Smith‘s Bravo reality series Shear Genius, presiding over a hairdressing competition to update the original trio’s signature hairdos.
On August 3, 2010, it was announced that Jackson would be writing a memoir, to be published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. Titled The Smart One, the book was originally scheduled to be released on October 11, 2011, was delayed to February 1, 2015, and delayed yet again to December 30, 2020.