Ladd was born Cheryl Jean Stoppelmoor in Huron, South Dakota. She married fellow actor David Ladd, son of the famous actor Alan Ladd. She kept his surname after their divorce. Ladd is a celebrity ambassador for the child abuse prevention and treatment non-profit Childhelp.
Ladd first arrived in Hollywood in 1970 to begin a career in music. Then known as "Cherie Moor," 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 and Happy Days.
When she was cast as Farrah Fawcett-Major's sister, as Kris Munroe in 1977 - essentially replacing Farrah on Charlie's Angels - she became an "overnight star." Ladd remained with the show until its cancellation in 1981.
Ladd ran with her sudden popularity to further pursue her musical interests, 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.
The title track from Dance Forever, released in 1979, 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 #179 in the U.S.
In the early 1980s, she released two more albums in Japan; Take a Chance and the mini-album, You Make It Beautiful. During her singing career, Cheryl earned a Top 40 Hot 100 single and a Gold record.
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.
Following Charlie's Angels, Ladd remained a familiar face on television and has starred in more than 30 made for television movies, including a coveted role as Grace Kelly, the Philadelphia heiress who became a Hollywood glamour girl and then a European princess, shortly before Kelly's death.
She also starred in feature films such as Purple Hearts, Millennium, Poison Ivy and Permanent Midnight. Ladd had the lead role in the television series One West Waikiki between 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, played by James Caan, in 28 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.
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 Resounding Courage for the Hallmark Channel.