Angie Dickinson, 91, who had her big breakthrough with Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo, has been one of the most celebrated actresses of her generation. Before landing the role of Feathers, a sultry saloon girl, in Rio Bravo, in which she starred opposite John Wayne and Dean Martin, Dickinson had small acting parts in a number of movies.
During the 1950s, she appeared in numerous anthology series which helped her cement her place under the Hollywood sky.
Her most impactful role is that of Seargent Pepper Anderson in Police Woman. This role made her a pioneer because no other woman played such a role in the past. Seeing a female in uniform of television inspired many young women to purse careers in the military.
The series, however, was “too clean” according to Dickinson. She did not like how each of the episodes ended perfectly and how little violence was involved in them.
When she was first offered the role, she had wanted “to throw up,” she revealed in 2020 during an appearance on CBS Sunday Morning Show. Calling it a “horrendous undertaking,” Dickinson revealed the show shot 20 to 21 episodes each season which was a grueling task. On top of it, she wasn’t paid much, as there was a pay gap between men and women in the film industry back in the day. The show “sapped” years of her life and that it “wasn’t worth it.”
Over the years, she has been said to had had romantic affiliations with actors and politicians, among which Frank Sinatra, with whom she starred together in Ocean’s Eleven, Dean Martin, and former president John F. Kennedy as well.
Dickinson was married twice. Her first husband, Gene Dickinson, was a star of the football team of the school they both attended. They tied the knot in 1952 and called it quits in 1960. Dickinson married Burt Bacharach, who became a famous composer in the years that followed. The two welcomed a daughter together, Nikki, Dickinson’s only child.
Nikki was born three months prematurely and spend some time at the NICU but resembled a perfectly healthy child. Sadly, she experienced plenty of health issues over the years although she thrived in ballet, gymnastics, horseback, swimming, and scuba diving as a child. Nikki also excelled in music and instruments, but she was then diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum and often referred to as a type of “high-functioning autism.”
When she was born, Nikki was diagnosed with strabismus and her eye sight became worse over the years which prevented her from having a career. Her parents took her to a specialized facility where she lived for ten years.
At the age of 40, Nikki died by suicide. The statement regarding her passing said that she had taken her life to “escape the ravages” in her mind.
Speaking of her late daughter, Dickinson said, “She was very smart and funny and wonderful. Yeah, so all my memories of her are my best memories.”
Dickinson retired from acting in 2009, playing her last role in the Hallmark film Mending Fences. “I am not looking for work, I don’t really care,” Dickinson said on Pioneers of Television. “I’ve had my day in the sun, and I am very content.”
Following her daughter’s passing, she has lived all by herself in her Beverly Hills home.
She appeared on a PBS documentary about Sammy Davis, Jr., I’ve Gotta Be Me. When she was 79 years old, the actress said she was ‘lucky.’ She said, “I came along at the right time for so many great things. I met some great stars and stayed friends with many and lovers with some. It was a fantastic life, really. And it still is.”
Dickinson was last spotted in public by The Daily Mail in early October 2021 and she has always been very secretive about her personal life.
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