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PEOPLE : A Rage for 'Angels' : If it has to do with Farrah and the detective show's other actresses, Jack Condon collects it--as 5,000 items attest.

March 12, 1993|R. DANIEL FOSTER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; R. Daniel Foster writes regularly for The Times

Farrah Fawcett sprawls across Jack Condon's spare bedroom floor, looking stunning in her one-piece black leotard.

Smiling at Condon, she demonstrates how inches can melt away with a few twists of her Exerstik, a broomstick-like invention. ("The fast way to tone your tummy!")

Picking Fawcett up, Condon leans her against the wall and considers his 5,000-piece memorabilia collection, a retrospective of the careers of the "Charlie's Angels" cast.

Fawcett's likeness, printed on the Exerstik box, is one of hundreds of Fawcett's photographs that surround Condon.

"I think it's a lot for people to comprehend," said Condon, who lives in the San Fernando Valley.

It's also an eyeful for Fawcett, Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith, Cheryl Ladd, Tanya Roberts and Shelley Hack--all of whom played Angels on the 1970s series and have heard of the collection.

Condon began buying merchandise spawned by the show as an 11-year-old living in Belleville, N.J. He moved to the Valley two years ago and now shows off his collection to friends who drop by.

Surrounded by "Charlie's Angels" lunch pails, rain gear, hair dryers, dollhouses and Farrah beanbag chairs, Farrah rugs, Farrah pillows and Farrah deodorant, Condon seemed genuinely puzzled at the obvious question:

Why?

"At the time it was the new show, a phenomenon," said Condon, pushing back a shock of blond hair. "I watched all 108 episodes. After a few years, I realized if I hung on to all this stuff without taking it out of the bubble wrap, it might be worth something someday."

Condon was right. Some collectors now pay up to $50 for a Jaclyn Smith paper doll that cost 69 cents in 1977.

Condon, who works as a sales representative for Gift Box Corp., has no idea how much his collection is worth, and has no plans to sell it.

Flipping through stacks of 2,700 photographic stills of the actresses' TV appearances, Condon said he bought most of the items during the show's four-season run, which began in 1976.

He has purchased a few items since then, such as the $200 pinball machine he happened on while it was being delivered to a bar.

The 1970s was a peak decade for TV merchandising, said Philadelphia collector Giovanna Del Buono, an expert in memorabilia trivia.

"TV show merchandising died out in the 1980s because kids were going to movies more," said Del Buono, who collects Beatles souvenirs. "But it has picked up again lately with shows like 'The Simpsons' and 'Beverly Hills 90210.' "

Del Buono said Condon's collection is the largest of its kind.

"Others have concentrated on a single Angel, but Jack has made quite a study of the whole show," she said. "The series had three lead characters to create merchandise around, so there's a lot out there."

In fact, "Charlie's Angels" was a testament to merchandising run amok.

The show's concept, considered by some to be "a feminist's worst nightmare" seemed a perfect match for creating and entire industry around the Angels' sex appeal. (The women sleuths worked for an unseen boss named Charlie, with the voice of John Forsythe.)

Condon is quick to defend his Angels, most of whom he has met by finessing introductions through various friends.

"Farrah never wore a bikini on the show, and when she did go swimming, she wore a one-piece bathing suit," said Condon, standing in a room papered wall to ceiling in early Fawcett posters.

Condon's latest addition is a Body Slide, an exercise device promoted by Cheryl Ladd. Ongoing acquisitions include K mart displays that feature Jaclyn Smith's line of clothing.

"That's what keeps me going" Condon said. "I now get to track their current careers. All of them do one or two TV movies each year, along with products they promote."

Condon has also packed away an impressive stash of the actresses' pre-Angels memorabilia, such as hair nets and shower bonnet packages he found printed with Shelley Hack's photo, and sold when she worked as a model.

Perhaps the most intriguing item in Condon's collection is the script from the series' pilot show, titled "Harry's Angels."

"There was another show on at the time with the name 'Harry' in it, so they had to change the name," Condon said.

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