Emmy Rossum is playing Los Angeles icon Angelyne in the Peacock limited series, Angelyne, premiering May 19. The eight-episode series is based on a 2017 Hollywood Reporter longform exposé by Gary Baum that revealed the elusive Hollywood star’s real name and backstory. Angelyne, 71, rose to fame for her super racy billboards around L.A. in the mid-1980s. Her career blew up after that, and now her fascinating life is finally being explored on the small screen. Here’s everything you need to know about Angelyne.
Who Is Angelyne?
Not much was known about Angelyne prior to the 1980’s. She was apart of her then-boyfriend’s band Baby Blue in 1978 and they performed in local clubs in Los Angeles. But the band failed to make it big, so Angelyne began a solo music career starting with her self-titled debut album that came out in 1982. That same year, Angelyne met entrepreneur Hugo Maisnik who wanted to use Angelyne’s image for his display-printing business. He helped create the first billboard of Angelyne, which said “Angelyne Rocks” and went up on Sunset Boulevard in February 1984. Angelyne instantly became an icon because of the billboard.
Angelyne’s career blew up fairly quick and she released two more albums, as well as numerous singles. She was featured in music videos like Neil Young‘s “This Note’s For You” and Motley Crue‘s “Without You” and also had small parts in films like Earth Girls Are Easy, Homer and Eddie, Running Wild, and The Disaster Artist. Her billboards appeared in the opening credits of the 1980s show Moonlighting. Angelyne was also spoofed in The Simpsons, Futurama, and BoJack Horseman. Furthermore, Angelyne launched her own website in 1997 where she offered tours around Hollywood, which resulted in the experimental film The Angelyne Dream Experience. She also executed several art exhibitions.
The most surprising fact about Angelyne may be that she’s run for political office twice now. She ran for governor of California in 2003, while her real identity was still concealed, and she came in 28th out of 135 candidates with 2,536 votes. She campaigned with the slogan, “We’ve had Gray, We’ve had Brown, now it’s time for some blond and pink.” Angelyne also ran in the 2021 California gubernatorial recall election where Caitlyn Jenner was also a candidate. She received 0.5% of the vote.
Her real identity came out in 2017.
After keeping her real identity a secret for decades, the truth came out in the 2017 Hollywood Reporter story by Gary Baum. The investigative feature identified the star as Renee Goldberg, the Poland-born daughter of Holocaust survivors who were able to flee to America after being sent to concentration camps. Angelyne grew up in L.A. and attended James Monroe High School, per the article, which also revealed that she was briefly married. Angelyne remained elusive even after her identity was exposed.
She approved the new show.
Emmy Rossum, 35, revealed at the red carpet premiere for Angelyne on May 17 that the blonde bombshell granted the rights to her life, trademarks, art, and music catalog to Peacock. “It was so important to me that she be involved in this and that we were able to faithfully recreate her iconic billboards,” the Shameless alum told Variety. “And it was really, really important to me that she be paid for her contribution, not just to the show, but to pop culture over the last 50 years.”
Emmy also revealed the advice Angelyne gave her before filming began. “She told me that I should tell the story that I wanted to tell — that she considers herself to be an icon and that she serves to speak to whatever the individual sees in her,” Emmy shared. “She said she did what she felt she was inside and that’s how it came out, and we wanted to honor the legacy that she has in all of her pink glamour. I hope that the show is ultimately a love letter to that fun.”
Martin Freeman, Alex Karpovsky, Lukas Gage, Jefferson Hall, Charlie Rowe, and Molly Ephraim also star in Angelyne. Emmy is also an executive producer on the show, which started filming since before the COVID-19 production delays in March 2020.