I heard the news this weekend. Farrah Fawcett is fighting for her life, in a battle with cancer that just won't go away. Her family is by her side, and some reports say she's in a coma.
A South African Website says:
"Farrah had been filming her battle against the potentially deadly disease for a TV series called A Wing and Prayer and wants others to learn from her experience with living with the illness.
"I'm holding on to the hope that there is some reason I got cancer and that there is something, that may not be very clear to me right now, that I will do," she said in one interview in the documentary.
"As much as I would have liked to keep my cancer private, I have a certain responsibility to those fighting their own fights who may benefit about learning from mine."
NBC probably has the inside track on this story: Just last week the network said it had exclusive rights to the documentary tracking her treatment in Germany, entitled "A Wing and a Prayer."
Here's what producer Craig Nevius told (NBCUni-owned) "Access Hollywood:"
"Her health and her message have remained [NBC execs] priority, instead of rushing the project to the air or grabbing at headlines. They have respected both her privacy and her creative voice. From the beginning, the network has insisted that ‘A Wing and A Prayer’ will air when both it and Farrah are ready.”
More on that in a minute, including some clips from the documentary.
You can look at the Farrah Fawcett gallery on this page, and see the Farrah this generation knows. But this is the first thing that flashes in my mind when you say "Farrah."
It's been called the most popular pin-up poster of all time, and I think every boy in the 70's had one. (Some still do, tucked in their parents attic somewhere.) For the girls, she was the original (yes, way way way before this generation of the Jennifer Aniston shag) when it came to the celebrity hair-do. There was the Dorothy Hammill in 1976, of course, but all the cool girls were flipping their hair out in tousled hot rollers with the Farrah.
Because it was also in 1976 that the Farrah poster turned her into a superstar. My favorite story on the poster is in TheStar.com, because it gives us a little history:
It was the last shot of a photo session staged by the pool of the Bel Air home she shared with then-husband, Lee "Six Million Dollar Man" Majors.
Fawcett herself chose the famous red one-piece bathing suit over the proffered bikini, self-conscious of a childhood scar on her stomach. She also did her own hair and handpicked the famous frame over several slightly more coquettish poses, some suggestively munching a cookie.
The old Indian blanket hanging in the background originally covered the tattered front seat of a '37 Chevy owned by photographer Bruce McBroom, a freelancer Fawcett had worked with before, who was paid a total $1,000 (figures U.S.) for the job. Fawcett – by then officially hyphenated as "Farrah Fawcett-Majors" – got considerably more out of the deal, including $400,000 in royalties and a role in the hottest Aaron Spelling series ever to hit the air, Charlie's Angels.
Believe it or not, Farrah was only an "Angel" for one season. She was such a superstar (who, by the way, had been unknown before the poster) that she became too big for the show, as TheStar.com continues:
Sales of the poster only escalated after that, and one season into the show Fawcett decided she was worth more than the $5,000 per episode the other Angels were paid.
She was quickly replaced by Cheryl Ladd, playing her younger sister, Kris, and after a protracted legal battle was required to return to "guest-star" in a half-dozen subsequent episodes.
Ladd, meanwhile, broke the tension on set by showing up for her first day in a T-shirt cheekily emblazoned "Farrah Fawcett-Minor."
I loved that last line. (And I didn't remember that "Kris" was supposed to be "Jill's" little sister, did you?)
The Today Show had a pretty extensive segment on this story, and you can see some clips from the documentary of Farrah Fawcett's cancer battle in the story the Lee Cowan put together for it.
Check it out here, and good luck. I couldn't get the video box from the NBC website to work (I'm technically challenged this morning) so I stuck in this YouTube video tribute to Farrah in the box to the left instead.
It's worth watching, if just for the 10 minute remix of the Charlie's Angels theme music!
Farrah is just 62. Let's hope the more optimistic "official" reports of her condition are the true ones ... they say she should be released from the hospital in a few days.