Ladd was born Cheryl Jean Stoppelmoor in Huron, South Dakota, the second daughter of Dolores (née Katz), a waitress, and Marion Stoppelmoor (1929–2001), a railroad engineer. She married fellow actor David Ladd, with whom she had a daughter, Jordan. She took his surname as her own, which she kept after their divorce.
She has been married to music producer Brian Russell since 1981, and has a stepdaughter, Lindsay Russell. Ladd is a celebrity ambassador for the child abuse prevention and treatment non-profit Childhelp.
Ladd initially came to Hollywood in 1970 to begin a career in music (she was known as "Cherie Moor" when she was the singing voice of Melody on Hanna-Barbera's Josie and the Pussycats animated series). She soon began to land non-singing roles in commercials and episodic television, including guest appearances on shows such as The Rookies, The Partridge Family, Police Woman, and Happy Days.
Her big acting break came in 1977, when she was cast in the ABC television series, Charlie's Angels, replacing star Farrah Fawcett, who left the show after only one season to pursue a movie career. To make the transition easier for audiences, producers cast Ladd as Fawcett's character's younger sister, Kris, instantly making her a part of the "Angel's family". In the years to come, this practice of replacing Angels became a common event for the show, but Ladd remained a part of the main cast until the show's end in the spring of 1981. While starring in the highly rated Charlie's Angels, Ladd took advantage of her new-found popularity to further her musical career, guest-starring in musical-comedy variety series and specials, performing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl XIV in January 1980, and releasing three albums, enjoying a top-40 Billboard Hot 100 single and a gold record.
Following Charlie's Angels, Ladd remained a familiar face on television and has starred in more than 30 made-for-television films, including as Grace Kelly, the Philadelphia heiress who became a Hollywood glamour girl and then a European princess, in a biopic that was begun shortly before Kelly's death. She also appeared in a number of feature films, such as Purple Hearts (1984), Millennium (1989), Poison Ivy (1992) (featuring Drew Barrymore, who later starred in the film adaptations of Charlie's Angels), and Permanent Midnight (1998). Ladd had the lead role in the television series One West Waikiki (1994–96), and made guest appearances in other TV shows such as Charmed, Hope and Faith, and CSI: Miami. From 2003 until the show's cancellation in 2008, Ladd played Jillian Deline, the wife of the lead character Ed Deline (James Caan), in 29 episodes of the television drama Las Vegas.
In 1996, Ladd published a children's book, The Adventures of Little Nettie Windship. In 2005, she published Token Chick: A Woman’s Guide to Golfing With the Boys, an autobiographical book which focused on her love of golf. For several years, Ladd hosted a golf tournament sponsored by Buick.
In September 2000, Ladd starred on Broadway, taking over the title role from Bernadette Peters in a revival of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun. She played the role until January 2001, when Reba McEntire took over.
On April 17, 2010, Ladd, along with her co-angel, Jaclyn Smith, accepted the 2010 TV Land Pop Culture Award for Charlie's Angels.
In 2010, Ladd filmed a TV movie titled Love's Everlasting Courage for the Hallmark Channel, which aired on October 1, 2011. That same month, she guest-starred on NCIS in the show's ninth-season episode "Thirst" as the love interest of medical examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard. In December 2011, she guest-starred in an episode of Chuck, playing Sarah Walker's mother.Josie and the Pussycats (1970) Capitol Records.
Cheryl Ladd (1978) Capitol Records. The single "Think It Over" peaked at number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart in the United States. The track "Walking In The Rain" was used as an ending song for Charlie's Angels in Japan and was released as a single, while the song "I'll Never Love This Way Again" was recorded by Dionne Warwick the following year. The album reached number 129 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Dance Forever (1979) Capitol Records. The title track was also the closing theme of Charlie's Angels in Japan and was released as an EP, while the song "Where Is Someone To Love Me" was the theme of a Japanese whisky TV commercial featuring Ladd herself. The album reached number 179 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the United States.
Take a Chance (1981, in Japan) Capitol Records.
You Make It Beautiful (1982, mini album in Tokyo, Japan) Capitol Records.