Balancing personal life and a successful career in showbiz is not always easy. In Angie Dickinson’s case, she refused to work overtime to be home and cook dinner for her husband, Burt Bacharach.
“Police Woman” star Angie Dickinson and her second husband, Burt Bacharach, had a long and loving relationship – something relatively uncommon in the entertainment industry.
The former couple was married for 15 years and welcomed a daughter named Nikki. Angie loved and focused so much on her family that she even turned down roles to care for them. Unfortunately, life had a tragedy prepared.
Burt Bacharach and Angie Dickinson in Beverly Hills in May 1974 [left]. Portrait of Angie Dickinson circa 1965 | Photo: Getty Images
ANGIE’S LIFE BEFORE BACHARACH
Born in September 1931, Angie showed up on the entertainment industry scene in the 1950s after a beauty pageant win led her to a minor role in “The Colgate Comedy Hour.”
In 1952, Angie married Gene Dickinson, the Glendale College’s football team star. Even though they were college sweethearts, they divorced in 1959.
Portrait of Angie Dickinson circa 1967 | Photo: Getty Images
The same year Angie and Dickinson parted ways, she portrayed the flirtatious gambler Feathers in “Rio Bravo.” It was her breakthrough role, and it helped establish her as a sex symbol.
After leaving Dickinson, Angie was reportedly romantically involved with high-profile entertainers and politicians, including Frank Sinatra (who worked with her in “Ocean’s 11”) and former President John F. Kennedy.
Angie Dickinson in Knightsbridge, London, on September 26, 1980 | Photo: Getty Images
In 1965, Angie married Bacharach, an award-winning songwriter and composer best known for “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “I Say a Little Prayer.”
One year after saying “I do,” the former couple welcomed their first and only child, Nikki. Unfortunately, their relationship, careers, and lives started complicating shortly after.
[Angie] once admitted she was “crazy” about her husband.
Burt Bacharach, wife Angie Dickinson, and daughter Lea Nikki in their Hollywood home in June 1969 | Photo: Getty Images
Nikki was born three months premature and weighed only one pound, ten ounces. She was in such frail health that doctors didn’t think she would survive.
The experience was nothing short of traumatizing for Bacharach and Angie. She confessed they would watch Nikki hour by hour and celebrate whenever she gained an ounce.
Burt Bacharach and his wife Angie Dickinson playing with Nikki in May 1974 | Photo: Getty Images
Luckily, Nikki survived, but she had vision problems and was later diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Angie noticed her daughter needed extra attention, so she arranged her schedule to favor family time.
Instead of booking parts in big films and promising series that would require her to be away from home for too long (like Hot Lips Houlihan in “M*A*S*H”), she started accepting roles in smaller TV projects.
In 1974, Angie started portraying Pepper Anderson in “Police Woman,” the successful police procedural television series that made her an icon.
Burt Bacharach and his wife Angie Dickinson watching Nikki play the piano in May 1974 | Photo: Getty Images
Before Angie started working in “Police Woman,” she admitted she would hate being a bigger star than her husband, which is precisely what happened.
As her career was taking off in the mid-1970s, Bacharach faced some difficulties. Singer Dionne Warwick even sued him in a contractual dispute.
Burt Bacharach and his wife Angie Dickinson in May 1974 | Photo: Getty Images
It was also reported that Angie, who once admitted she was “crazy” about her husband, was more focused and made more sacrifices than him to stay married.
She wouldn’t even work weekends or overtime in “Police Woman” because her life revolved around Bacharach. She requested to leave the set in time to cook dinner for Bacharach and Nikki.
The actress’s friend and “Police Woman” co-star Earl Holliman pointed out that it was tough for her because she wanted both her series and be with her family.
Burt Bacharach and his wife Angie Dickinson in a London park in 1966 | Photo: Getty Images
Two years after Angie started paving the way for other female actresses in TV with her work in “Police Woman,” she and Bacharach parted ways but stayed married. Angie would say they were simply “living separately.”
She also admitted her friends believed it was a “weird” separation. Although Bacharach spent most of his time at their beach house in Del Mar, California, he frequently stayed at the Beverly Hills family home.
Angie and Bacharach’s daughter, Nikki, passed away in April 2012.
Angie Dickinson and Burt Bacharach in Beverly Hills, California in April 1971 | Photo: Getty Images
Angie added that they were not divorced or separate permanently and was sure “one or both” of them would eventually decide what to do. As they were making up their minds, they were dating other people. She explained:
“Burt goes out with women, and I go out with men. But I still consider myself married to Burt Bacharach—quite married. I love Burt. I adore him.”
Angie Dickinson circa 1955 | Photo: Getty Images
Angie and Bacharach finally divorced in 1981 after being separated for five years. The actress partially blamed herself for the divorce as she spent too many hours on the “Police Woman” set. She admitted she would have left herself, too.
Bacharach then married composer Carole Bayer Sager. Angie was happy for Bacharach and confessed he needed someone who understood him as he kept telling her she didn’t.
Angie Dickinson portraying the title character in “Jessica” in 1962 | Photo: Getty Images
The actress also admitted that Nikki inherited her father’s love for music, liked to play the drums, and was different than her in a few aspects. Nikki, who never wore makeup, once told her mom they would never be equally feminine.
After divorcing Bacharach, Angie kept some of his photos throughout the house. As time went by, Angie and Bacharach stopped seeing each other, though.
Angie Dickinson in New York circa 1970 | Photo: Getty Images
Unfortunately, Angie and Bacharach’s daughter Nikki passed away in April 2012. She was just 40 years old. Nikki, who dealt with vision problems and Asperger’s syndrome her entire life, died by suicide in her Thousand Oaks apartment in California.
Bacharach released a statement describing Nikki as a person who loved “kitties, earthquakes,” and many other science-related things. As expected, he canceled all his shows following her death.
Angie Dickinson on April 14, 2019 in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images
Nikki studied geology at Cal Lutheran University and, despite her health issues, she could finish the degree with her dad’s help. Her poor eyesight prevented her from pursuing a career in the field, though. Rest in peace.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.