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Female TV cops are everywhere now, but it was Angie Dickinson who started it all

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When Angie Dickinson is clicking through TV channels these days and she sees Kyra Sedgwick playing Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson on TNT’s “The Closer,” she smiles.

“It feels like seeing one of my children,” Dickinson says.

Okay, as it happens, Sedgwick recently had Henry Louis Gates trace her ancestry on PBS’ “Finding Your Roots.” Angie Dickinson didn’t show up anywhere.

But there’s a direct line from Brenda Leigh Johnson back to Sgt. Suzanne (Pepper) Anderson, the cop that Dickinson played on “Police Woman” from 1974 to 1978.

“Police Woman” broke a lot of TV ground. It proved, for the first time, that a woman could carry the lead in a successful prime-time network drama.


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