The news just came down in the last five minutes ... the woman who went from pinup girl to Hollywood iconhas died after a long struggle with cancer. The story here on our website says "Farrah Fawcett, who captured hearts in the 1970s playing a beautiful detective in "Charlie'ss Angels," passed away Thursday as friends and family stood by her hospital bedside, ending the Hollywood icon's brave battle against cancer," and that their hopes for her recovery were dashed just before 10am Pacific time.
I hate that thing we always say ... that a person has "lost the battle" with cancer. Yesterday I wrote about another woman, Dr. Jerri Nielsen, who also died of cancer after a highly publicized battle with the disease and she had said something to the effect that we're all going to die, something will get us. Cancer had become part of her, and she accepted her death as part of her life. Her question, as a motivational speaker, wasn't "how will I die," rather, have I really lived?
Today our newsroom is busy -- so below is what I wrote in this space on April 6 about Farrah Fawcett, and her rise to stardom through a simple poster photo shoot that transformed her into a star.
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."
Back to the news of today. Farrah Fawcett's longtime love, Ryan O'Neal, had hoped she would recover enough to nod "yes" so the two could be married, finally, before he said goodbye for the last time. I was optimistic when I heard that her family had gathered and a priest was called, that perhaps that's what was happening. I'm sorry I was wrong.