The iconic television show Charmed showcases the three beautiful Halliwell Sisters, who are heavily involved with witchcraft continues to stream on iTunes, Amazon and Netflix after more than fifteen years of running on network television. Originally airing in 1998 on the WB, it has been available since then and can be currently viewed around the world. During its original eight seasons from 1998 to 2006 the series received numerous prestigious and some not so prestigious awards along with accolades from adoring fans. It attained a new status for women as the longest running television show featuring an all female lead before being dethroned by Desperate Housewives in 2012.
Another note of minor historical significance is the fact that Charmed was the only televised show to employ a full time consultant demonologist. At the time of this writing, the series still runs on TNT the cable network and is noted as one of the most watched shows on Netflix.
The memorable series comes to mind of late for several reasons. A few headlines concerning the wonderful ladies known as the Charmed Ones, have appeared lately. To refresh our memories, the series starred a simmering late-twenties Shannen Doherty of Beverly Hills 90210 fame. She played the oldest and wisest sister named Prue, followed by the wholesome and attractive sister, Piper, played by Holly Marie Combs of the series Picket Fences. Holly is, in fact, a best friend with Shannen. The youngest charmed sister, Phoebe, is portrayed by super sexy Alyssa Milano of the television show Who’s the Boss.
The plot recipe featuring these three gorgeous females, and I do mean gorgeous, has them battling on the side of good versus evil. Excellent scriptwriting portrayed a variety of evil demons, coupled with genius special effects, made for a winning combo. The show appealed to a wide audience, both male and female viewers of all ages were intrigued by the episodes as evidenced by its consistently high ratings.
Its evening time slot was a popular feature for many college dorm rooms. In addition to the now iconic stars the sultry and talented Irish descended beauty, Rose McGowan, joined the cast in 2001 as a witch /whitelighter or angelic being. Unfortunately, she was set to replace Shannen, rumored to have left the show after differences with other cast members, Alyssa Milano, and crew; circumstances similar to her departure from the 90210 series. In the final two seasons 2005/2006 the very cute and bubbly Kaley Cuoco joined as the spirited and rebellious teenage witch in training Billie, who was coming into her abilities. She is mentored by the older more experienced witches allowing the show to explore several plot paths. Kaley Cuoco is the female lead in the very successful series Big Bang Theory, where it is documented she nets a million per episode, making her the most successful and currently most well known of the Charmed Witches who graced the halls of the Halliwell Manor. Way to go Kaley!
It is not well known outside of social media circles that Kaley broke her leg while riding in 2010. Like the other female stars of Charmed they all have an avid love for horses, many of the five own their own equines. The producers of Big Bang Theory went to considerable effort to hide Kaley’s injury, filming many scenes with her sitting down or concealing her bulky leg cast behind a piece of furniture. No doubt, the scriptwriters had to be very imaginative to work around it. In addition to horseback riding and kick boxing, Kaley is an accomplished tennis player who continues to rank high in a Southern California amateur regional division. Hopefully, her injury doesn’t alter that standing. Married, she now hails by the name, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, and her revised moniker can be seen in the opening credits. Hold on! Stop the presses, sadly the latest reports state Kaley and her tennis pro husband of 21 months are officially filing for divorce. Maybe her costar and ex-boyfriend of two years Johnny Galecki (Leonard) could possibly console her. Wonder how long it will take the producers of BBT to axe the last part of Kaley’s name from the opening credits?
Back to our original witches, the top of the pack is obviously Shannen Doherty. Before she gained recognition in Beverly Hills 90210, SD had a major role in the 1988 dark teen comedy Heathers where the main character’s boyfriend attempts to kill off the competing three most popular self-centered girls in the school. They all happened to be named Heather. After 90210, SD was given top billing in the memorable and entertaining 1995 comedy, Mallrats, where she dumps the lead character played by Jason Lee who went on in his career to portray the hapless hero in the leading role on the hit television series, My Name is Earl.
An anticipated reprisal of the popular Mallrats film titled appropriately, Mallbrats, has Shannen in her role as Rene and is in the works for the near future. Shannen continues to find work for one main reason … she has the ability to act. Miss Doherty is a familiar face on appearing in no less than ten television series and at least that many made-for-television films of which many continue to play regularly on the Syfy channel. Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys – not exactly critically acclaimed, yet mildly entertaining, is a fine example of the venues we find her in lately. Other notable titles with Shannen battling adversity against incredible odds to save humanity are 2005’s Category 7: The End of the World and 2012’s Witchslayer Gretl, as well as my personal favorite: The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon from 2008. Having seen the lost treasure twice in the past two years, Shannen is paired with romantic adversary and typically humorous Michael Shanks of the wildly successful Stargate SG-1 television series airing 1997 to 2007.
Shannen Doherty’s personal life has also been controversial, at times much like her career. In 1993 she was taken to court in the golden state for bouncing over 70 checks totaling some $36,000. In October of that same year twenty-two-year-old Shannen married Ashley Hamilton, the handsome actor and son of iconic George Hamilton. They were divorced seven months later in April of 1994. Then came the Charmed years for Shannen which were capped with a drunken driving conviction in 2001, the same year she exited the show. The following year she married Rick Salomon, but the marriage was annulled after nine months. By the way, Richard Salomon was the partner in the infamous Paris Hilton sex tape, One Night in Paris. He later married Pamela Anderson in 2007, but Salomon and Anderson separated after only ten weeks. The two were said to have remarried once again in 2014 for only a handful of months before divorcing or annulling or whatever.
Before and after Charmed, Shannen posed for Playboy in 1993 and in 1994 and again almost ten years later in 2003. She still killed it. In 2008, Shannen joined the cast of the new and revamped Beverly Hills 90210, reprising her role after fourteen years on the WB as Brenda Walsh. She had a chance to appear in scenes with her off screen friend, Jennie Garth, who played the character of Kellie Taylor throughout the ten seasons of the entire original series. Another of SD’s latest efforts include the easy going and light hearted Off the Map television show, where she travels the roads with BFF, Holly Marie Combs, seeking lesser known sites and interesting attractions of rural America. Misadventures abound for the two and are a must for any and all fans. Ups and downs continue for lovely Shannen and she married well known celebrity photographer, Kurt Iswarienko, in the fall of 2011 in a lavish ceremony at a private estate in the beautiful Malibu Hills. In July of 2015, she was forced to sell her beloved Malibu home of many years. She had struggled during several foreclosure battles in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Hopefully, the sale alleviated her financial issues.
Shannen recently announced she had breast cancer. The forty-four-year-old actress put on a brave face to openly discuss her condition as well as her treatment. We wish her the best. Related to that latest announcement, SD filed a lawsuit against her former business management company claiming they failed to pay her health care premiums causing her insurance to be cancelled. Due to the lapse in her health coverage, she did not see a doctor for a regular check up, allowing her condition to spread unchecked. Because of the new restrictions, mandating when applicants can sign up, Shannen had to wait longer until she was finally diagnosed.
FACTOID MARITAL STATUS
Out of our five featured ex-witches, two are divorced HMC-twice, and Kaley-once. Three are currently married Rose, Shannen and Alyssa. Two have produced lovely children Holly-three, Alyssa-two.
On to Alyssa Milano, like Shannen she was a talented and popular child star in the hit series Who’s the Boss. And like Shannen, Alyssa also appeared in numerous made-for-television movies and had many guest starring roles in notable shows through the 1990’s such as the second episode of the premier season of fifties genre, Rebel Highway in 1994 and the tremendously popular series Melrose Place 1997 to 1998. Early in the 90s Alyssa moved on to much racier fare. One of course I am referring to 1995’s Embrace of the Vampire where young Miss Milano does more than embrace the wily vampire. In one memorable scene, probably the steamiest of her career, Alyssa’s character is suddenly awakened in her bed by the intruding vampire, Martin Kemp, who rips open her night gown revealing Alyssa in all her nubile glory.
Fans were not disappointed! Other sexually explicit titles starring Alyssa Milano are 1995’s Deadly Sins and Poison Ivy 2 in 1996. Alyssa also made a memorable appearance where she bared all in the remade version of the hit science fiction television series the Outer Limits. In the July 1995 airing of the episode Caught in the Act, Hannah played by Alyssa is an alien-meteorite-infected college student who becomes a sex-crazed temptress luring men to their deaths by shockingly and painfully absorbing them! The concept’s really cool and so is Alyssa’s performance … definitely worth a look. After a couple memorable and well portrayed roles in the 1996 film, Fear with Reese Witherspoon and Mark Wahlberg along with Hugo Pool. In 1997 her stint on Melrose Place was well received and Alyssa went on to her Charmed Years. The Charmed producers weren’t shy about exploiting Alyssa’s sensual qualities. The two-part season premier of season five showed A Witches Tail costarring beautiful Jamie Presley as a scantily clad mermaid and also has Phoebe, played by Alyssa, turning into a mermaid sporting nothing more than a couple of gold sea shells to conceal her considerable attributes. There were hopes this episode would lead to a spinoff with Jaime in the leading role. Alas, it never happened. In Alyssa’s post Charmed years she toned it down, making a series of mostly wholesome appearances on a variety of televised dramas. Being the star of a major hit supernatural series coupled with acting ability and stunning physical features, she was ideal in portraying the well endowed antique store owner in the Ghost Whisperer.
Oh wait, that was Jennifer Love Hewitt.
In 2008 she had a recurring role as the crazed ex-wife of Jason Lee, who also played Earl in My Name is Earl. Alyssa also did voice-overs for many popular video games. Alyssa stayed in the television arena after that with appearances on such hits as Castle and Romantically Challenged in 2010 and 2011 respectively. In 2013 Alyssa created her own comic book series, Hacktivist, a well received fast-paced cyber thriller. In 2014, she left the successful series Mistresses to stay close to her husband and two children in California. Alyssa Milano is a huge sports fan, especially baseball and hockey. She is also reported to be an enthusiastic NASCAR fan as well. A new baby last fall for Alyssa has brought her into a breast feeding controversy because she posted pics of herself breast feeding her new born baby and was met with harsh criticism. Alyssa has met the hullabaloo head on.
Over to Rose McGowan, who has worked with many well known directors like Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction, Brian De Palma in Body Double and Robert Rodriguez in Desperado. She is also an accomplished singer/song writer lending her voice to numerous musical projects and video games. Rose who once worked at McDonalds at age 15 most recently added director to her resume with the 2015 short film Dawn, which she also penned.
In 1995 at age twenty-two, Rose was nominated for a best debut performance award for the Doom Generation followed by her appearance in the surprising 1996 break-out hit Scream. Let’s not forget she was in Bio Dome with Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin. Rose began starring in or was being featured in more and more high-profile big-budget films like 1998’s Southie, a gritty examination of Irish gang life in South Boston, starring Donny Wahlberg of Blue Bloods. Also in 1998 Rose starred along with Ben Affleck of Argo, Liev Shreiber of Salt and Joanna Going of Wyatt Earp and Peter O’Toole of Lawrence of Arabia in the heavily laden special effects science fiction horror, Phantoms, penned by horror master Dean Koontz. In the 1990s dark comedy Jawbreaker, often compared to Heathers, Rose put in a competent performance and was later nominated for an MTV award for Best Female Villain. Although the movie was a critical and financial let down, over the years it has attained popular cult status. Rose’s career was overshadowed by her three-and-a-half-year relationship with Rock music performer Marilyn Manson known for wearing bizarre makeup and clothes. In 1998, Rose appeared with Manson at the Video Music Awards in a revealing fishnet outfit that garnered her much attention.
It was in 2001 that Rose joined the cast of Charmed playing the sultry and alluring Paige Matthews. Like Shannen Doherty who Rose McGowan replaced, the producers seemed to strive to find another stunning pale-skinned dark-haired beauty of Irish heritage like Shannen, and with solid acting abilities like Shannen. Rose stayed with the series until its end in 2006. Before she finished her time on Charmed, Rose starred in the critically acclaimed made-for-television miniseries Elvis that focused on Presley’s early life and career. In the role of Ann Margaret of Bye Bye Birdie, Miss McGowan had a chance to showcase her considerable singing talents. Around 2007 she was romantically involved with Robert Rodriguez of Desperado who directed her in the lead roles for both Grind House… the one where Rose has a machine gun for a leg and Death Proof with Kurt Russell. Engaged to be married, the relationship allegedly fell apart when RR couldn’t convince the studios to let him cast his Rose as the lead in the remake of Barbarella, a 1968 futuristic science fiction comedy/fantasy starring a drop-dead gorgeous thirty-one-year-old Jane Fonda. Instead it was rumored, the studios were leaning more towards Jessica Alba.
Rose was involved in serious car accident in 2007. Traveling as passenger she sustained several severe injuries to include her pretty face that required surgery.
There was also much anticipation for a 2009 Red Sonja re-envisioning, based on the original 1985 film starring Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold Schwarzenegger, in which Arnold practically reprises his thrilling role as Conan the Barbarian. Although the original Red Sonja was a critical disaster, it too has gained much cult popularity over the decades. The remake, set to be directed by Rodriguez with lovely Rose in the title role, never got off the ground. Pity the promotional poster looked intriguing. The two were supposed to work on a television series together known as Women in Chains, but it is believed to be a casualty of their breakup as well. In 2011 Rose was once again called upon to portray a witch in the remade Conan the Barbarian. It too proved a critical and financial failure, probably why you never heard of it. It was however narrated by Morgan Freeman.
Now married and in her forties, Rose seems to be embroiled in sexism dispute, where she charges that a studio memo she received strongly encouraged her to sport a cleavage revealing top and push up bra for an upcoming film shoot. I don’t think anyone is shocked anymore by Hollywood’s excesses and stipulations on both men and women, except of course Rose. My, has she come a long way from her fishnet days.
Holly Marie Combs: Last but certainly not least is the irrepressible HMC, who first gained major recognition in the 1992 hit series Picket Fences. In 1996, she actually had an unaccredited role in The Craft, the same year Holly did a provocative nude scene in the independent movie Reason to Believe shedding her wholesome image as the Sheriffs daughter from Picket Fences. Shannen D. urged executive producer Aaron Spelling to bring on board her best friend Holly Marie Combs, and in 1998 HMC landed a starring role as one of the three sister witches on Charmed. The shows tremendous success has made Holly a well known star. Among the many awards and nominations she received was the 2011 6th place ranking in the top ten bitching witches survey from E online. During and after Charmed, Holly was involved with a few TV movie projects like Loves Deadly Triangle: The Texas Cadet Murder and the critically acclaimed Our Mother’s Murder. In 2004 Holly married for the second time and had three sons during the seven-year-marriage. Her first marriage in 1993 at age twenty lasted four years.
Holly seems to have had a life out of the headlines, living a quiet existence with her family while occasionally making appearances. Cast as a regular character in 2010 in the television series Pretty Little Liars, where she appeared in at least eighty-two episodes from 2010 to 2015. One of her latest endeavors, mentioned earlier, includes her best friend Shannen D. who approached her to do a quaint and genuine six episode road travel show Off the Map, produced by and starring the two former screen witches. The viewers got to vote online and decide which activities the two would participate. Each episode features a different Southern State. In the second episode about their trip through Tennessee, Shannen’s home state, the ladies sample authentic moonshine from deep in the Smokey Mountains. In Georgia they go on a creepy ghost tour in historic Savannah. In Alabama the ladies bravely go dirt track racing and in Kentucky they join in a pitched tomato throwing battle. The show is marvelous family friendly fun.
Again to say the iconic hit television series Charmed lives on is an understatement. It has run in syndication longer than its original long run of eight seasons. A person does not have to look far to find a television show or film that has not been strongly influenced by Charmed. Many shows and motion pictures feature similar characters and concepts to the Charmed series and in some scenes the parallels are blatantly obvious. Some notable examples are Hex, Wicca, Witchblade, The Secret Circle, 13 Witches, Every Witch Way and Eastwick based on the original Witches of Eastwick with Cher, Michele Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon along with Jack Nicholson. A bevy of guest stars appeared and launched their careers from the days of Charmed. A few stars are Amy Adams, Nick Lachey, Eric Dane of Grey’s Anatomy/The Last Ship, and Rainn Wilson of The Office. Oh and don’t forget Kaley Cuoco. Some notable guest directors include LeVar Burton of Star Trek Next Gen. Anson Williams of Happy Days, Perry Lang of Riptide, James Whitmore Jr. of Black Sheep Squad and Shannen Doherty who directed the last episode that she starred in, as well as the Genie episode Be Careful What You Witch For, where the sisters are all granted wishes that lead to profound and dangerous consequences for them. Shannen also directed the memorable western witch episode, The Good the Bad and the Cursed where she and Cole, Julian McMahon, are transported back to the old west to save the day. In this episode the audience is treated to a six-gun wielding Prue, outfitted in western garb complete with sexy leather-leg chaps, taking on the bad guys, and allowing Shannen to showcase her considerable horseback riding skills and acting ability.
Piper Halliwell Holly Marie Combs apparently owned a dance club known as P3 for the power of three. This venue allowed scenes to take place at another location, rather than the familiar Halliwell Manor. Club P3 went through several iterations as the show progressed. All the while, showcasing many popular bands and performers of the late 90s, including the Goo Goo Dolls, The Cranberries and Bare Naked Ladies to name few. Eventually P3 slipped from the plot.
The good witch theme prevails:
Whether it’s the idea of modern witches hunted and on the run as portrayed in the early seventies Disney hit classic Escape to Witch Mountain, or the iconic television show Bewitched, the good witch theme has been a prevalent one. Bewitched, starring Elizabeth Montgomery, like other popular television series was based on an original movie or two movies in the case of Bewitched. Those movies being, I Married a Witch starring Frederic March and Veronica Lake and Bell Book and Candle, with Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. Just as the aforementioned Bewitched and the Stargate Sg-1 series were based on a popular original movie, so was Charmed, which was conceived from as well as capitalized on the popularity of the hit movie The Craft, starring Robin Tunney of Mentalist, Neve Campbell of Wild Things and Fairuza Balk of Almost Famous.
Many elements of The Craft carried through to Charmed. Both shared a remake of the same hit song by The Smiths, How Soon is Now used in the televised intro. Large stately houses were used in both for many of the indoor scenes. Many beautiful scenes of Northern California graced the film and show. Even Shannen Doherty resembled Robin Tunney … why mess with a successful formula?
We owe much credit to The Craft writer Peter Filardi, also known for Flatliners and Salem’s Lot, for conjuring up the enduring images of young beautiful witches equipped with mysterious powers. Although, Filardi’s witches were not very nice.
It was writer/producer Constance M. Burge who really created the Charmed ones we know today, shedding the younger high-school themes of The Craft for more mature characters. Burge worked as executive producer on some forty-four episodes of Charmed. The fans will not forget her.
The Charmed opening sequences behind the opening star credits, usually featured vibrant dreamy music played against a backdrop of stunning aerial scenes and bucolic panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay area. Many included the majestic Golden Gate Bridge setting the tone for a show that didn’t try too hard, and maybe that was its secret.
I wouldn’t be doing the Charmed shows legacy justice without mentioning some of the other regular costars who held the mantle. Like TW King, Dorian Gregory, Finola Hughes.
Through our Charmed journey we have been introduced to the power of three and together encountered warlocks, gnomes, nymphs, a sea hag, genies, a beautiful mermaid, fairies, cupid, countless demons and a conjured from history Robin Hood and Lady Godiva as well as many others. We’ve seen the Charmed Ones demonstrate their powers of telekinesis; astral projection; levitation and premonition to name a few. As it was once famously stated in the show:
A witch’s powers are tied to her emotions.
Oh and I almost forgot, throughout the show we got to see the central Book of Shadows.
One has to wonder if the stars of the show at that time had any inkling of the huge impact their chronicle of the Charmed One’s lives would unleash upon an unsuspecting world. Did any of them have any premonition… get it… of all the films that would imitate their efforts. Could anyone have guessed that the Charmed series would be the inspiration for a popular comic book, as well as an acclaimed animated series and almost fifty Charmed novels.
The familiar weekly show went through many changes over its lengthy run. In the last scene at the end of the premier episode Shannen is shown by herself smiling while closing the front door to the Halliwell Manor using just her magic telekinetic powers, making it feel as if it was Shannen’s show. Pity. That scene was used again and again in the end of the opening credits for several seasons. After the end of the first few seasons and the departure of executive producer Constance Burge, the reigning producers got rid of the demon of the week format in favor of more developed multi-episodic story arcs that explored the personal lives of the three main characters. This move had a positive effect on ratings and solidified the fans connection to the show’s characters, ensuring the continued high ratings enjoyed throughout its history. Eventually, the writers were directed by the executive producers to get rid of serialization, where each week’s story line connected and flowed into the following week. The show returned to a stand-alone episode structure, finally achieving a happy balance between the two formats by the premier of season six.
Well before that, they got rid of Shannen, or rather she got rid of herself. In 2013 there was talk of a reboot or re-conjuring of the Charmed series. It was to feature four female leads the next time around, but it never materialized. The concept was not well received by the veteran stars according to their responses through social media and interviews. Some comments ranged from its just too soon to Hollywood is desperate for plots and will try anything, or something to that effect. Plus, who would they get to play this new crop of witches? Maybe following the successful formula of the original show’s casting, you could draw on the pool of child or teen stars to find your witches. How about Miley Cyrus, not that she would do it, as one of the proposed new Charmed Ones? Too wild to be a witch? Hollywood marches on none the less. Its ebb and flow of cultural fads and mores constantly shifting and moving forward, yet familiar patterns and themes will always remain constant.
Sex does sell, particularly in H-land. Breasts are central to that as evidenced even now with the Charmed ladies of past currently.
We have lovely Rose McGowan far from her all revealing fishnet days entangled in a sexism dispute over push up bras and cleavage. We have somewhat recent mom Alyssa Milano enmeshed in her own little controversy over her candid breast feeding picture postings. Shannen’s devastating breast cancer news… sorry to mention it this way.
It is certainly hard not to focus on the attractive elements of our Charmed stars, but we should keep in mind how incredibly talented and gifted these actors are, and what they have accomplished, including the huge impact they have made on our collective social psyche. Shannen Doherty was nominated twice in 1999 and 2000 for a prestigious Saturn Award for Best Actress on television. She is also an accomplished producer, having executive produced fourteen episodes of her own show that she created in 2006, Breaking Up with Shannen Doherty. SD also wrote a couple episodes as well. Again Shannen was also an executive producer along with Holly Marie Combs on their 2015 show Off the Map. In addition to being an accomplished producer SD also has a choreographer credit from the 2001 Charmed episode Coyote Piper. The one where a possessed Piper dances on the bar. SD choreographed Piper’s provocative dance moves. Shannen also has many directorial credits under her belt. She directed the previously noted three highly rated Charmed episodes as well as some short videos and 1 episode of the short lived comedy/drama series Suite 7, in which she was also a star. Maybe Shannen should consider directing a full length film if offered. I think she’d be great! Too bad they couldn’t mend fences with Shannen and convince her to come back for either the 90210 finale or the Charmed finale or both. Sadly the empirical evidence of Shannen not getting along well with others is starkly evidenced in her absence in the series finales of both Charmed and 90210. With new unauthorized versions of 90210 being aired and Tori Spelling participating in a compelling lie detector based Q and A type program, much more of the truth about actual events that led to Shannen’s untimely departure are coming to light. Tori revealed that she was the one who persuaded her father, Aaron Spelling the 90210 executive producer, to cast Shannen Doherty in the show. Most interesting of which, I feel, is the account by Tori Spelling that Shannen and Jennie Garth actually got into a heated fist fight. I always suspected Shannen was a hitter. You’re not that self assured and confident without knowing you have something to back it up.
All the women of Charmed are extremely generous to various charitable organizations, some they represent personally. Most of the organizations supported by the Charmed One’s are associated with animal welfare programs. All of our ladies are avid animal lovers, the net is ripe with countless shots of them with their pets.
The year Charmed premiered, 1998, it was a far different world than we live in today. With all the problems and challenges of our lives today, it leaves one yearning for the simpler times of the nineties and the Charmed Ones.
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