Some of TV's baddest women weren't born yesterday. They can be found all over classic TV, from Star Trek to All in the Family, Batman to Xena: Warrior Princess. They're supercharged mortals capable of slaying mythic gods like the muscular Xena, suburban mothers like Maude who make it clear with every sharp takedown that they're not the weaker sex and sci-fi officers commanding the bridge of the USS Enterprise like Lieutenant Uhura. Some kick. Some bite. Some just whittle their adversaries down to size with a well-chosen retort. Roll over? Never!
Meet ten top TV ladies whose sparks burn bright as ever.
Agnes Moorehead's Endora
The show: Bewitched
The era: 1964-72
The swagger: Stage, radio, film and TV actress Moorehead's relentlessly scheming mother-in-law-from-hell is a triumph in typecasting, and it's a tribute to Moorehead's chops as a scene-stealer. Endora may enjoy making her son-in-law's life miserable, but she also constantly shakes up her daughter Samantha's feeble attempts to pass as a typical suburban housewife. That's a feminist, badass wink, if ever there was one.
Diana Rigg's Mrs. Emma Peel
The show: The Avengers
The era: 1965-8
The swagger: Sleek, sexy ‘60s style icon Rigg was delicious, delightful – and deadly. She was so much more than Patrick Macnee's secret agent John Steed's sidekick. Sharp as a tack, the feminist role model could rock a cat-suit, launch a deadly karate kick and speed a classic British sports car through many windy spy-versus-spy adventures. Self-possessed and perennially amused, Peel was as tough as TV actresses ever got in the ‘60s. And Rigg also earned four Emmy nominations for her role as major player Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.
Barbara Stanwyck's Victoria Barkley
The show: The Big Valley
The era: 1965-9
The swagger: Brooklyn-tough Stanwyck's bigger-than-life platinum-haired Western matriarch had the distinction of being the only one in her two-fisted frontier family who didn't get shot. Maybe it helped that she knew her way around both a rifle and a derringer. Over the course of the show she let her wig out, eased her corset and exchanged prairie dresses for jeans and leather jackets. Over 103 out of 112 episodes, Stanwyck did her own stunts. Not bad for a four-time Oscar nominated movie star who was the highest paid woman of 1944.
Where to watch: The Big Valley, on Starz