Born in Kulm, North Dakota and educated at Glendale College and Immaculate Heart College, Angeline Brown acquired her professional name Angie Dickinson when she married college football star Gene Dickinson. A beauty contest winner, Dickinson entered films with an unbilled bit in the 1954 Warner Bros. musical Lucky Me. Her earliest films consisted mostly of "B" Westerns (at one point, she dubbed in actress Sarita Montiel's voice in 1957's Run of the Arrow) and television (Dickinson was rather nastily murdered in very first episode of Mike Hammer). She moved to the A-list when selected by Howard Hawks to play the female lead in Rio Bravo (1958). The film gave Dickinson ample opportunity to display her celebrated legs, which, for publicity purposes, were reportedly insured by Lloyd's of London.
She went on to star in films both famous and forgettable: one of the roles for which she is best remembered is as the mistress of gangster Ronald Reagan (!) in The Killers (1964). In 1974, Dickinson jump-started her flagging career as the star of the TV cop drama Police Woman, which lasted four seasons and represented a tremendous step up in popularity for Dickinson. On that program, the actress played Suzanne "Pepper" Anderson, an undercover agent with the LAPD's criminal conspiracy division, whose assignments nearly always included donning a crafty and sexy guise in order to nab an underworld criminal.
At about the same time, Dickinson also moved into motion pictures and (after years of consciously avoiding nude scenes), went au naturel for exploitation king Roger Corman in that producer's depression-era romp Big Bad Mama, which unsurprisingly became a cult favorite. (Years later, in 1987, she teamed up with Z-grade shlockmeister Jim Wynorski for New World's Big Bad Mama II). Brian DePalma's Psycho-influenced thriller Dressed to Kill (1980) brought the actress greater visibility, and like the Corman assignments, required Angie to do erotic nudity (though in this case, the below-the-waist shower shots were reportedly performed by a body double).
In later years, Dickinson leaned more heavily on starring and supporting turns in made-for-television productions, including a telemovie follow-up to Police Woman, Police Woman: The Freeway Killings (1987); the Oliver Stone miniseries Wild Palms (1993); the direct-to-video thriller The Maddening (1995) (opposite longtime friend and colleague Burt Reynolds); and the prime-time soaper Danielle Steele's Rememberance (1996). The next decade found the septuagenarian actress unexpectedly returning to A-list Hollywood features, albeit in small supporting roles; these included Duets (2000), Pay it Forward (2000) and Ocean's Eleven (2001) (in a cameo as herself, nodding to her involvement in the original).