She wanted to be famous, but also remain a mystery.
Angelyne, the pink-Corvette-driving blonde bombshell of LA lore, built her fame on her eye-popping billboards that appeared all over Los Angeles in the 1980s. The enigmatic entity — sometimes a singer, sometimes a model, sort of an actress and twice a gubernatorial candidate — has spent decades being famous for being famous, cruising around LA, selling merch out of her car and posing for photos (for $20 a pop). But she has historically avoided answering questions about her mysterious past. Now, the TV show Angelyne, debuting on Peacock on May 19, aims to reveal much more about her journey to stardom.
Angelyne stars Emmy Rossum as the titular character, and is based on a 2017 Hollywood Reporter article that unearthed information about Angelyne’s past. The series uses a faux-documentary style, with Angelyne and those in her orbit sitting for interviews that then flash back to moments from her life.
The series also plays with the idea of what the truth really is when it comes to Angelyne. Perhaps we know much more than we did before about this LA icon, but will we even know the real story? Ahead of the new series debut, here’s a breakdown of how Angelyne became the LA icon she is—and what the series hopes to reveal.
Who Is Angelyne?
The woman known as Angelyne first appeared in a band in the late 1970s in Los Angeles. She joined her boyfriend’s band Baby Blue as a singer, playing in LA clubs. But the TV series plays with what may or may not have happened to break up both the band and Angelyne and her boyfriend, making it clear that Angelyne and others involved with this story may see things differently. It ends with Angelyne undergoing plastic surgery to enhance her breasts and change her face into the woman most people are familiar with now.
From there, the series looks into how Angelyne was able to get billboards of her image plastered around the city. Many have wondered who bankrolled the billboards, and the series digs into her relationship with Hugo Maisnik, an married older man whom she worked with (and who became her manager) to make the billboards a reality. “Success is a high better than any drug, and to be honest, I got kind of addicted to the attention. I became a billboard junkie,” she said in a 2019 interview. At one point, there were more than 200 billboards across the city with her image on them. Along with releasing two albums, Angelyne dabbled in acting and art — but from the moment those billboards hit Los Angeles, her full-time job was being famous.
She also ran for governor – twice. First, in the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election, in which she earned 2,536 votes to finish 29th. She then put herself on the ballot again in 2021 during the recall election of Gavin Newsom, ranking 18th among possible replacements.
The Making of the Series
To become Angelyne, Rossum donned 3-pound fake breasts, contact lenses, heavy makeup and a blonde wig, sometimes spending four to five hours in the makeup chair each day. “The physicality of the character was challenging. The body is heavy, yet it has to feel light and effervescent,” said Rossum in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter.