"Charlie's Angels" sold more magazines in 1976 than anything else the mind of man could devise to put on a cover.

That plucky trio, and most especially Farrah Fawcett-Major's, was on a whole flotilla of last year's best selling magazine covers. Besides being Time's top cover (the opposition that week, Cyrus Vance on Newsweek, was admittedly not too tough), the Angels' were the No. 2 selling People cover, beaten only by exclusive photos of "Cher, Gregg & Baby."

The ladies were also one of TV Guide's most successful covers (the Guide folks declined to get specific) and when Farrah revealed "What Life With The Six Million Dollar Man Is Really Like" in the May Photoplay, that was their best cover as well.

Biggest surprise of the year was that August generally considered part of the summer doldrums, had more best-sellers than any other month. These included:

Sports Illustrated (Aug. 9) - featuring a violently triumphant Bruce Jenner and the one word headline AWRIGHT! Psychology Today - this was the "Pursuit of Happiness" issue, with a relaxed young man lying on his back in a patch of tall grass.

National Lampoon - anotther young man, not so relaxed, in fact having his clothes torn off by four ravenous women, was the cover of the "Compulsory Summer Sex Issue."

Penthouse - the British Pet of the Year was on the cover, "America's Secret Police Network" on the inside.

Cosmopolitan - a mind-boggling mix as only Cosmo can serve it up: Bitchas only Cosmo can serve it up: "itchiness Can Be Beautiful and Get You Whhat You Want," "What a Real Orgasm Feels Like - Some Much Beloved Cosmo Girls Tell. Maybe You're Being Cheated" and "The "If All Falls' Diet Plan - How Really to Think Yourself Thin."

Ladies Home Journal - Cher again, speaking her mind about her baby and her marriage, plus Miss Lillian on "My Son, Jimmy Carter" and a photos-by-Susan Ford, interviewed-by-Lynda Robb story on "Growing Up In The White House."

Some sales highs are predictable: Both Family Circle and Betler Homes and Gardens did best in December, the traditional top month for home-and-family oriented books. TV Guide's best issue, and at 21, 434, 170 copies the single biggest selling magazine of the year, was as always its Fall Preview Issue, and Esquire's January Dubious Achievement Awards did best, as always. Even Scientific American has a traditional best-seller, the September single-topic issue, which this year was a look at food and agriculture, with a scintillating detail of a computer-enhanced satellite image of California's Imperial Valley on the cover.

Other best-selling magazines were:

New York - "The Last Time I Saw Paris It was In New York" (July 5), showing a breathless pair of Beautiful People, and Just beating out the gardening issue, "Growing A Jungle" (March 8) traditionally a very big seller.

Playboy - what else but the November issue with the Jimmy Carter interview, which sold a cool million more than Playboy's newstand average.

Newsweek - Part II of the excerpted Woodward-Bernstein "The Final Days" (April 12) was top dog, with Part I (April 5) coming in second.

McCall's - the cover was not particularly colorful, but who could resist April's "100th anniversary Issue. Double Sized: The Biggest, Best, Most Beautiful McCall's Ever!"

Reader's Digest - the March issue, featuring "A Do-It-Yourself Health Checkup," "How To Put Sex Back In Marriage" and "America's Women On The Go: How Far, How Fast?"

National Enquirer - two of the Enquirer's top four issues featured looks at the future, including the No. 1, July 6 issue, which boasted Judith Campbell Exner's memoirs as well as "Predictions for the Second Half of 1976."

True Story - "a Beautiful Big Wedding For a Pregnant Bride - Me!" was the lead story, backed up by "why Don't You Commit Suicide" - My Own Daughter Said That To Me!" and "Our First Baby had Four Legs and A Tail!"

National Geographic - no newsstand sales here, but reader surveys report that 3 of the 10 most popular stories, including Nos. 1 and 3, were on whales. Tales of exotic places, usually considered a Geographic staple, generally finished in the bottom half of the tally.

Now for the bad news. The least popular People cover featured Nancy Reagan saying, "The movies were custard compared to politics." The least popular Photoplay cover boasted Chevy Chase adn the "NBC's Saturday Night" crew. The least popular New York cover was "A Guide to Adult Tennis Camps," Just nosing out Albert Goldman in Columbia on "The Marijuana Trail." And the least popular True Story cover offered up "The Last Day My Wife Walked In The Sun," "I Heard My Stillborn Baby Cry" and "We Adopted My Husband's Ex-Wife."

Wait till next year. Crimebusters

Poor television; blamed for just about every ill on God's earth, it takes another rap in the Jan. 29 issue of TV Guide. A survey taken at the Marquette maximum-security prison in Michigan by Grant M. Hendrick, himself a lifer, revealed that "a surprising 9 out of 10 (prisoners) told me that they have actually learned new tricks and improved their crime expertise by watching crime programs. Four out of 10 said that they have attempted specific crimes they say on television crime dramas, although they also admit that only about one-third of these attempts were successful."

Many cons, Hendrick reports, actually sit and take notes when shows like Baretta and Kojak come on the tube. "It's like you have a lot of intelligent, creative minds - all those Hollywood writers - working for you" one inmate marveled, while another, a 34-year-old with 15 years behind bars, claimed "TV has taught me how to steal cars, how to break into establishments, how to got about robbing people, even how to roll a drunk."

Of course, TV can prove an imperfect teacher. One man, following the modus operandi of a TV rapist, ended up beaten to a pulp by the woman's 6-foot boyfriend. Another inmate, suing a "Starsky and Hutch" plot, tried to rob a nightclub. Unfortunately, it turned out to be owned by the underworld. "I'm lucky to be still alive," he said. My Hero

Cosmopolitan, which doesn't strink from the tough questions, lets "Sex Symbols Name Their Sex Symbols" in its February issue. Some of the more interesting responses include:

Henry (The Fonz) Winkler - Katharine Hepburn. "Wouldn't mind being in her space on a cold day - what a wonderful way to warm up!"

George Pllimpton: Brigette Bardot. "I would think anybody who doesn't understand why to be mentally deficient in some way."

Chevy Chase: Buddy Ebsen. "I've always wanted to go out with him - I like his sense of perspective."

Patti Smith: actor Pierre Clementi. "He seems like a guy who'd put a bullet thoue Clementi. "He seems like a guy who'd put a bullet through you in the midst of making love."

Andy Warhol: Mickey Mouse. "Big ears are sexy." Death Wish

If dying can be said to have its good points, one of them is the chance of having the final word, as Lord Palmerston did when the doctor informed him he was approaching the end. "Die sir," said the good lord, "That is the last thing I shall do."

Palmerston's parting shot and others like it are recorded in the February Horizon. Some last words are grumpy - Oliver Wendell Holmes muttering "lot of damned nonsense" as an oxygen tent was moved around him - while others, like his Uncle John Holmes, are pithy and to the point. Informed by a nurse that he must be still alive because his feet were warm and "nobody ever died with their feet warm," the old man opened his eyes and shot back, "John Rogers did." Rogers, unfortunately, had been burned at the stake.

Among the other choice final words were the Spanish playwright Lope de Vega's who wanted to make sure he had no more time to live before he made a horrible final confession. Assured this was so, the great man replied, "All right then, I'll say it. Dante makes me sick."

And then there was Dominique Bohours, a French grammarian true to the cause to the end, his last line a veritable model of professionalism: "I am about to - or I am going to - die: Either expression is correct." Quest

Have you had it with the good news is no news bunch? Are you tired of those nattering nabobs of negativism? Is it time for a change? The editors of Quest /77, "a magazine that has the guts to be positive," sincerely hope so.

With its premier issue with a cover story on the climbing of Mount Everest due out the 20th of this month, Quest promises to be rather intriguing, if only for its publisher. That would be the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, a nondenominational charitable organization set up by the World-Wide Church of God, a fundamentalist group to which television and radio preacher Gardner Ten Armstrong belongs.

With a staff culled from magazines ranging from the Paris Review to Car and Driver and People, Quest will start with a bimonthly circulation guarantee of 175,000. Editor Robert Shnayerson, former editor-in-chief of Harper's says "a personal feeling of fatigue" led him to Quest. "Let other editors drag readers through [WORD ILLEGIBLE] of mediocrity," he writes in the first issue. "I'm interested in people as they really are - and could [WORD ILLEGIBLE] become." Maybe the sky isn't falling after all. Contempt

Novelist Anthony Burgess, commenting in the February Harper's on certain aspects of negative reviews: I don't really mind a book-page headline like NEW BURGESS A BORE. That strikes me as having a certain selling potential: It is unequivocal; it makes boringness a highly positive vice, like dirtiness; it may even send some, sick of every other vice and perhaps now ready for boredom, running to the bookstalls." Women's Work

McCall's, the self-proclaimed "magazine for suburban women," recently asked those same folks to tell "How Women Really Feel About Housework," and in the February issue, a solid 50,000 of them reply.

The most surprising result, McCall's says, is that these homemakers - "I am not married to my house," one woman replied indignantly to the title housewife - "have put housekeeping in its place. As the '70s approach their end, so apparently does the era of the compulsive housekeeper. Four out of five respondents devote less than one hour a day to straightening up, even in three-and four-bedroom homes!"

Unfortunately, these women are loosening up without much help from the man of the house. "A scant 5 per cent of all husbands made their own beds; fewer (less than 4 per cent) usually cooked dinner. Only half of all husbands even tossed their own soiled clothes in to the hamper.' They do, however, know the value of a kind word: "nearly 70 per cent of men praised their wives' cooking." Tidbits

Motor Trend Magazine's car of the year for 1977 is (the envelope, please) the Chevrolet Caprice, lauded as "the most car you can get for your dollar in the American idiom today" . . . Changing Times reports the said news that candy bar prices are going up to 20 cents, for which price you will get "a tiny bit" more candy . . . Two of the Rev. William Archibald Spooner's better Spoonerisms are noted in Scientific American: "When the boys come back from France, we'll have the hags flung sout," said during World War I, and the devoit the Lord is a shoving leopard." . . .

If you believe the big three weekly-news magazines are encumbered by "constraints from major corporate advertisers," there is now a weekly, or at least biweekly, magazine for you. Called "Seven Days," its premier issue features articles on the order if "The growing anger of Mexico's peasants." . . . The readers of Rolling Stone have, in their infinite wisdom voted Peter Frampton the artist of the year and his album, "Frampton Comes Alive!" the album of the year. The Who was named best band, Paul McCartney best male singer, and Liand Ronstadt best female singer . . . (get magazines/add twelve)

Family Circle is selling so well it will go to 13 issues a year, one every four weeks, in 1977 . . . The Publisher's Information Bureau announced that 1976 magazine advertising revenues hit an all-time high of $1.6 billion, up 22 per cent from 1975. TV Guide, with ad revenue of $156.3 million, was top grosser. New magazine starts were also up: 334 publications began in 1976, everything from Playgirl Advisor to Hillbilly, with 49 of them headquartered in California.