Meet the IRL Angelyne Behind Peacock’s ‘Angelyne’ and Prepare to be Fully Enticed

·6 min read
Photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives - Getty Images
Photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives - Getty Images


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So you might be wondering: Who the heck is the real-life woman who inspired Peacock’s newest limited series Angelyne? And what was she famous for, exactly? Well, those questions are *kind of* the entire point.

The show, which is part of a larger series about unconventional rises to prominence, tells the story of the elusive 1980s icon Angelyne. While Angelyne was not a scam artist like Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Delvey, she carries a similar air of mystery, if not greater, TBH. She would drive around Los Angeles in a pink Corvette; her face was quite literally everywhere due to hundreds of billboards throughout the city; and there were even dolls made in her likeness. But while everyone knew of her, nobody actually knew her—better yet, most people weren’t even sure why or how they came to know about her at all. Talk about power. Before reality stars and Instagram models, there was Angelyne.

“Everybody has a take on who Angelyne is from their own perspective,” she said in a 2019 interview with Oyster magazine. “However they see me is who I am. I let my fans decide. Last week, a priest came up to me and asked, ‘Are you Angelyne?’ And I said, ‘Of course I am.’”

Since the full series is now available for your weekend bingeing pleasure, it’s only right that we dive into everything we know about the IRL Angelyne who inspired Peacock’s five episodes.

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Angelyne was originally named Ronia Tamar Goldberg

The mysterious idol was born in Poland in the 1950s. Her parents were Holocaust survivors who met in a Polish slum, according to a 2017 Hollywood Reporter feature that revealed Angelyne’s true identity. When she was young, she and her family moved to the United States and settled outside of Los Angeles in Fairfax, California.

“I used to visualize myself when I was 2 years old up in the sky like one of the stars,” she told Oyster. “Even when I was a little girl, I knew I was meant to make the world become a better place. But of course, at the time, I didn’t know through what medium.”

Angelyne first tried to be a musician

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Angelyne played with her then-boyfriend’s punk band Baby Blue. And get this: She even released a debut self-titled new wave solo album in 1982, so it certainly seems like she found a footing in the industry. One of the ways that Baby Blue promoted their gigs was by putting Angelyne’s photo on flyers, which pretty much was a precursor to her ultimate rise to fame.

Billboards made Angelyne, like, a super-huge deal

In 1984, a billboard in Los Angeles with Angelyne’s picture and the words “Angelyne Rocks” just appeared one day, but it wasn’t out of happenstance. Angelyne befriended a man named Hugo Maisnik, who was a creative entrepreneur she described as “a bored prankster,” and together they brought the billboards to life, according to Oyster.

“Success is a high better than any drug,” Angelyne said to the publication, “and to be honest, I got kind of addicted to the attention. I became a billboard junkie.”

Once her image was out there, the offers started rolling in. She appeared in films and television shows and continued to release music. As her fame grew, so did the number of billboards with her likeness on them—by 1995, there were more than 200.

“My whole focus was to inspire,” Angelyne said to Oyster. “Before my billboard went up, somebody said to me, ‘Those billboards are going to go wildfire for you,’ and they did. Like wildfire.” At the bottom of every billboard was the word “management” (Maisnik became Angelyne’s manager, FYI) along with a phone number, according to the Los Angeles Times. It was the OG “link in bio,” if you will. Angelyne became her own advertising and was famous for, well, being famous.

In fact, these billboards became such a big deal that they inspired a documentary, an experimental film, and a tour in Los Angeles. There’s even a play, too, called Los Angelyne, about the billboards—not Angelyne herself, in case you didn’t catch that—but about the damn billboards! The play was written by Maisnik’s daughter, Katherine Saltzberg.

If you wanna see the iconic billboards without going to Los Angeles, fret not because they can be spotted in movies like Moonlighting, Get Shorty, and even The Day After Tomorrow, according to Angelyne’s Wikipedia page. That is w-i-l-d to me.

One reporter thought Angelyne was an entire conspiracy

“I have lived in Los Angeles all my life,” wrote journalist Ajay Sahgal in the Los Angeles Times. “I have seen Angelyne billboards almost every day for 10 years and I have no idea who this woman is.” Sahgal attempted to profile Angelyne but ended up writing a meta anti-profile instead because she didn’t want to meet press in person.

But in true journalist form, Sahgal made do with the little intel he had: He learned as much as he could about her via the press materials given to him by the people who answered the “management” phone number; he watched her brief film and television appearances; and he even considered that she might be CGI, lol. (Keep in mind, this was the ’90s, so CGI wasn’t that good. He cites Forrest Gump as an example of digital film technology.) He also listed a series of rumors about her age and dating history.

When he finally got her on the phone, she said, “I’m famous for the magic I possess.” Not incredibly helpful for profile writing, but definitely helpful for me and my daily affirmations!

In 2003, she ran for governor

I mean, why the hell not? Apparently, Angelyne even had some alleged experience to back up this campaign, including being the honorary mayor of West Hollywood, according to her campaign site. Her slogan, you ask? Oh, that would just be, “We must party!” Honestly, I might’ve been able to get on board with this, but don’t @ me. Her campaign also promised that “by sheer virtue of Angelyne being governor, all citizens will rise to their higher self,” so there’s that. But it gets better: Just last year, Angelyne ran for the position again during a recall election. She was number 18 on the list of possible replacements though.

Now, she’s planning on taking over the internet

Well, not literally, of course. But, like, kinda? She has her sights set on taking her billboards digital and beyond. “I want to make Angelyne queen of the internet and the world and the universe and cyberspace so that I can spread positive energy everywhere,” she told Oyster. “It’s not next, it’s already happening. I don’t talk about my plans, I just talk about what’s going on.”

Even with all the info about her out in the world, with the latest installment being Peacock’s Angelyne, the legendary woman is *still* such an unpredictable mystery—we’ll never know everything there is to know about Angelyne, and that is kind of magical.

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