Born John Freund on Jan. 21, 1918, John Forsythe began his acting career (against his Wall Street businessman father's wishes) on Broadway and radio soaps. Following a World War II stint in the Army Air Corps, he became a respected actor in both TV and film. Forsythe starred in the series Bachelor Father and made notable appearances in In Cold Blood, It Takes a Thief and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, as well as several of Hitchcock's films. He even briefly had his own program, 1965's The John Forsythe Show.
He was a familiar face to film and TV viewers by 1976, but it was his impressive voice that caused Aaron Spelling to cast him uncredited as the elusive Charlie Townsend in Charlie's Angels. Forsythe's opening narration for the show and the creative ways in which he was always heard but never quite seen during the run of the series made his role an instant classic.
Immediately following Charlie's Angels, Forsythe stepped into the elegant shoes of millionaire Blake Carrington on the nighttime soap Dynasty. He hosted I Witness Video in the early 1990s while making countless other film and TV appearances. Forsythe also narrated Lifetime's 1997 Intimate Portrait of Angel Jaclyn Smith. When Charlie's Angels was given the big-screen treatment in 2000 and a 2003 sequel, director McG gave Forsythe $5 million to return as the voice of Charlie. In 2006, he was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away April 1, 2010, and was memorialized a week later by his Charlie's Angels co-stars at the TV Land Awards.
Charlie Townsend, man of mystery, is maybe not such a mystery after all. He was a general's aid in WW II in the Army's OSS. After his stint in the armed forces he dabbled with a career in acting. Soon after appearing in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with Eva La Deux, Charlie retired from acting and joined the police force, where he achieved the rank of lieutenant of detectives. He later opened his own agency with the help of friend John Bosley. Making the decision to retire from active detective work wasn't easy for Charlie, but he did and hired the Angels to work for him.
His anonymity is safe behind the walls of his home at 674 Vinewood Lane in Beverly Hills, or whatever yacht, tennis court or ski resort he happens to be visiting.