Brunettes don’t come lovelier than Jaclyn Smith—just watch her this week on CBS’ George Washington miniseries. Then why mess with success? “I guess I had imagined what it would be like to be a blonde,” muses Jackie. Really, now. Couldn’t she just ask Farrah? In any case, three years after the demise of Charlie’s Angels, Smith, 37, will find out if blondes do have more fun when she dons a punk-style wig for her first feature movie, Always, a romance-thriller dealing with reincarnation. Directed by her husband, British cinematographer Anthony Richmond (it’s his debut as a director), Smith plays dual roles, as a conservative, dark-haired ballerina of the 1930s, and a free-spirited 1980s actress. Reaction to her life as a blonde has been mixed. “Some people prefer me as a blonde,” she says. “I don’t. Besides, I’m a naturalist and would never bleach my hair. I feel God gave me brown hair and I’m going to enjoy it.”
More worrisome to her was that son Gaston, 2, on location with Mom and Dad in London since January, might find his mother’s new look truly hair-raising. “He was cool about it,” Smith reports. “He walked into the room, looked at me and said, ‘Hi, Mama.’ ” But then, the toddler should be in a good mood, having celebrated his second birthday on March 19 at a catered gathering—complete with clown—for some 90 friends (he hauled in a shiny new tricycle). Guests included Smith’s parents, Houston dentist Jack and his wife, Margaret Ellen, and actress Claire Bloom.
As for the sometimes risky business of working with a spouse, the film has fueled no family feuds. Richmond and Smith met in 1980 while she was shooting the TV movie Nightkill (with Robert Mitchum) in Arizona, and Richmond was the director of photography. But “long before we even held hands,” Richmond says, he had targeted her for his pet film project. On the Always set, he wasn’t even jealous after Jackie’s steamy love scenes with Nigel (Ex-calibur) Terry. After all, he cracked, “I’m the one going home with her.”
Smith is enthusiastic about her coquette role as Sally Fairfax, Washington’s devoted—but chaste—love. “It’s the most romantic part I’ve ever played,” she says. Like Fairfax, Smith is a woman of homespun values who oozes Southern charm. She found Fairfax’s femininity and flirtatiousness easy to relate to. “My values tend to be of another era,” she says. And she doesn’t mean Eisenhower’s.
Fairfax won’t be Smith’s final tangle with history. She has just signed to play Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell in the upcoming TV movie The Road to Tara. As a child, she says, “I begged my parents to call me Scarlett. I am not a fanatic except for my child, my family and Gone With the Wind.”
Beyond that there are three more TV movies, including the story of Florence Nightingale. “It’s no secret I’m looking for things with more depth to show a different side of me—which is there.” And, like every other star in Hollywood without a pimple, she’s putting the finishing touches on her as-yet-untitled beauty book for Simon & Schuster.
Like the other Angels who have struggled to earn respectable industry niches for themselves other than in the gossip columns, Smith thinks such diversity has bolstered her acting credibility. Farrah has already won good reviews in the off-Broadway play Extremities, and Kate Jackson has scored on TV with Scarecrow and Mrs. King. “I don’t regret Charlie’s Angels, but we did get hyped and thought of as slick, empty-headed girls.” She sees a happy ending. “Step by step,” she says, smiling, “we are all living it down.”