Mostly Credited As: Farrah Fawcett
Sometimes Credited As: Farrah Fawcett-Majors
Birth Name: Farrah Leni Fawcett
Date Of Birth: February 02, 1947 (Age 62)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Corpus Christi, Texas
Date Of Death: June 25, 2009
Cause Of Death: Colorectal cancer (Santa Monica, California)
Height: 5' 6" (1.67 m)
Farrah Fawcett was a pop-culture icon who skyrocketed to fame in 1976 on Charlie's Angels, a television series that became an overnight sensation. She was already well on her way to stardom as the wife of Lee Majors, who had a hit show of his own, The Six Million Dollar Man, on which Farrah (then Fawcett-Majors) had many guest appearances. She was one of the most successful models of the 1970's with big-name commercial and print ads such as Wella Balsam shampoo, Ultra Brite toothpaste, Noxzema, and Lincoln-Mercury. An incandescent beauty with sparkling aqua eyes, a brilliant smile and an athletic physique, Farrah radiated a breezy, fun-loving charm which made her appealing to both sexes. She was a sex symbol to men and boys and a positive role-model for women and girls all over the world. But what created the biggest frenzy of all was her hair -- a feathery blonde windswept mane, which became increasingly popular even before Charlie's Angels aired, when Farrah appeared in MGM's big-budget sci-fi classic Logan's Run. A poster of her donning a red swimsuit and flashing a dazzling smile began selling quickly, and by the time Charlie's Angels finally premiered, Farrah and her poster became an overnight sensation, and "The Farrah Phenomenon" hit big-time. That season, Farrah was nominated for a Golden Globe as "Best Actress in a Television Series" for her portrayal of Jill Munroe on Charlie's Angels, and she won the 1977 People's Choice award for Favorite Female Performer. * * * FARRAH REMEMBERED * * *
At the height of her fame and to the surprise of the world, Farrah Fawcett left Charlie's Angels after 23 episodes were completed and before the first season had even completed its run. It was speculated that the sudden whirlwind of fame was creating a strain on her marriage to Lee Majors. A civil lawsuit followed when Charlie's Angels creators Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg threatened to sue Farrah for breach of contract, including anyone who hired her during the litigation. Fawcett told her side of the story, claiming she was the only 'angel' who never signed a written contract; that she was cast on the spot by Spelling -- without even reading for the part. The lawsuit was eventually dropped, when Spelling and Goldberg came up with a different plan -- they offered to pay her $125,000 per episode to appear in 6 episodes over two seasons. Farrah agreed, and signed-on to do three feature movies as well -- Somebody Killed Her Husband, Sunburn, and Saturn 3, between 1978 and 1980. It was during this period that Farrah Fawcett-Majors made many changes in her personal life and career. She separated from husband Lee Majors and dropped her married name, reclaiming her maiden-name Farrah Fawcett, she fired her her publicist and she decided to stop working on movies to do live off-Broadway theater instead. After meeting Ryan O'Neal in 1979, the two fell in love and kept their relationship very private. Divorce proceedings would begin for Fawcett and Majors; the divorce finalized in 1982.
Farrah had begun receiving critical praise with her live stage performances in productions such as "Butterflies Are Free" in Burt Reynolds' dinner theater in Jupiter, Florida. She agreed to star in Burt's upcoming movie The Cannonball Run, which was a box-office smash. Her career took on a new high point when she took on the role of Marjorie Wallace in the Broadway stage production of "Extremities" -- which again got rave reviews, and secured a movie based on the play, for which she was later nominated for a "Best Actress" Golden Globe.
In 1984 Farrah Fawcett earned her first Emmy nomination for Best Actress as well as a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Francine Hughes in The Burning Bed -- the true story a battered wife who sets fire to her abusive husband's bed where he lay passed-out following a drunken rampage. It was a turning point in Fawcett's career when her gut-wrenching performances gripped the nation and it would turn out be the highest-rated made-for-television movie in history.
In 1985 Fawcett and O'Neal had their first and only child together, Redmond James O'Neal. Taking a break from acting for a while to be a full-time mother, Farrah returned to other gritty television roles, which were usually true life characters, many of which earned her Golden Globe Best Actress nominations -- such as Nazi Hunter: The Beate Klarsfeld Story, Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story, and Small Sacrifices, a two-part series which also earned Fawcett her second Best Actress Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Diane Downs, a woman who shot her three children, killing one. Critics hailed Farrah's performance as "Extraordinary", "Compelling", and "Her best and most rigorous performance to date".
In 1989 she won a "Best Actress" Cable Ace Award for her portrayal of Life magazine photographer Margaret Bourke-White on TNT. In 1991, Fawcett and O'Neal teamed up in the NBC comedy series Good Sports, in which they played former college lovers paired together as sports announcers on an all-sports television station. While the series had its moments, it didn't fare well in ratings, being in the same time slot against Murphy Brown, which was the number-one primetime show at the time.
Farrah made occasional appearances in television and movie roles over the next few years and secured a multiple-movie contract with NBC, which yielded well-received movies with high ratings including the acclaimed The Substitute Wife, and Children of the Dust, a blockbuster miniseries in which Farrah's performance earned more critical accolades.
In 1995 Farrah intrigued the world by appearing in a nude pictorial for Playboy magazine, at 48 years old. The issue became the biggest-selling issue in history. When Playboy approached Farrah to do another pictorial in 1997 at age 50, she agreed -- if she could feature her art prominently in the pictorial. A Playboy video was made as well during the shoot which became Farrah Fawcett: All of Me. In the video Farrah is shown painting her body and using it as a paintbrush, creating primitively evocative images to behold. "I wanted to show the world what I'd worked so hard at the University of Texas to study before ever coming to Hollywood -- sculpting and painting." During this time that the media was going wild over the reports of the breakup of Farrah and Ryan's 18-year relationship. Farrah's befuddled appearance on Late Night with David Letterman to promote her Playboy issue and pay-per-view video had many speculating whether she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Her explanation was "simple nerves", while attempting to appear lighthearted, during an exhaustive promotional tour when the media only hounded her regarding her breakup with O'Neal. As Letterman playfully interrupted and teased her before a caterwauling audience, a visibly flustered Farrah proved a good sport to the follies. It was good late-night entertainment at best.
In August 1997 Farrah returned to a brighter limelight when she made her big-screen comeback in Robert Duvall's "The Apostle". Once again bowling over audiences and critics. Fawcett won her first Independent Spirit Award, for Best Supporting Actress. Robert Duvall had hand-picked Farrah for the role he had written and had wanted to work with her ever since Small Sacrifices, to which he gushed, "Watching Farrah Fawcett act is like eating caviar. That lady knows how to act".
Farrah starred in a few television movies during this time, and had recurring roles on the series' Spin City and The Guardian (for which she earned her third "Best Actress" Emmy nomination) and a cameo role on Ally McBeal. She had a co-starring role in the Robert Altman feature film Dr. T. and the Women, for which she was nominated her second Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her work gradually tapered off when Farrah decided to spend more time with her increasingly troubled son Redmond, and she eventually reconciled with Ryan O'Neal after he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia, caring for him until his condition stabilized.
There were a few forgettable projects she starred in when she returned to her work, such as the miniseries Hollywood Wives: The New Generation and the film The Cookout with Danny Glover and Queen Latifah. This would be her last feature film.
In 2005, TVLand premiered the series Chasing Farrah, a reality show which was a huge hit for the network and put Farrah back into the spotlight. The theme of the show was simple: A day in the life of Farrah Fawcett, showing hoards of people and reporters following her wherever she went. There were poignant episodes, including one documenting the passing of her "mother and best friend" Pauline Fawcett, and one highlighting her visit with New York fire Department, post 9/11.
She made very few appearances in 2006, but one memorable moment was the TV reunion at the 58th Annual Emmy Awards with former Charlie's Angels costars Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith in an emotional tribute to deceased series mogul Aaron Spelling. Later she appeared in Comedy Central's Roast of William Shatner, and only days after this appearance Farrah admitted herself to a doctor when she began feeling exhausted and sick. The doctor's diagnosis was her worst nightmare -- colorectal cancer. As usual, a flood of media reports exploded while Farrah remained out of the public eye private throughout her treatments.
On February 2, 2007 -- her 60th birthday -- Farrah was announced tumor-free. However, the good news was short-lived and her cancer soon returned, with a vengeance. A retreat to Germany to seek alternative medical treatments was recorded by Farrah's friend Alana Stewart using a hand-held camera with Ryan O'Neal often at Farrah's side. The footage was used in Farrah's Story, a harrowingly graphic documentary of Farrah's ordeal during agonizing medical procedures and her struggle to "fight the fight" against cancer and for her life. There was a diary she kept daily during this time of her trials, and these she read aloud before the camera, often breaking into tears.
Farrah's Story made its blockbuster premiere on May 15, 2009 -- as 8 million viewers tuned in to watch. Many viewers admitted being unable to continue watching as some scenes proved too disturbing, often showing a brave Fawcett wracked with unbearable pain and even vomiting from her hospital bed. One of the most touching scenes shows her 24 year-old son Redmond, on a 3-hour release from a detention home, visiting a gravely ill Farrah -- who had by this time lost all of her famous hair. "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. Oh my gosh", Redmond reacts emotionally, crawling into bed with his sleeping mother. "Mommy. It's Red. It's your son" he sobs quietly, holding her close. It was evident by then to viewers that the odds were against her at this stage and her chances of recovery would most likely depend upon a miracle.
Sadly, Farrah Fawcett lost her brave battle with cancer on June 25, 2009 at 9:28 a.m., in the intensive care unit of Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. She died with Ryan O'Neal and Alana Stewart by her side. She was 62 years old.
"After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved Farrah has passed away. Although this is an extremely difficult time for her family and friends, we take comfort in the beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and the knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world." — Ryan O'Neal, longtime companion
"She was an angel on Earth and now an angel forever." — Lee Majors, ex-husband
"There are no words to express the deep sense of loss that I feel. For 30 years Farrah was much more than a friend, she was my sister, and although I will miss her terribly I know in my heart that she will always be there as that angel on the shoulder of everyone who loved her." — Alana Stewart, close friend
"Farrah had courage, she had strength and she had faith. And now she has peace as she rests with the real angels." — Jacyln Smith, co-star in "Charlie's Angels"
"Farrah had an outstanding talent, better than most feature film actresses that I've seen. She was great to work with and will be missed." — Robert Duvall, director and co-star in "The Apostle"
"I'm terribly sad about Farrah's passing. She was incredibly brave and God will be welcoming her with open arms." — Cheryl Ladd, co-star in "Charlie's Angels"
"I will miss Farrah everyday. She was a selfless person who loved her family and friends with all her heart, and what a big heart it was. Farrah showed immense courage and grace throughout her illness and was an inspiration to those around her. When I think of Farrah I will remember her kindness, her cutting dry wit and, of course, her beautiful smile. Today, when you think of Farrah, remember her smiling because that is exactly how she wanted to be remembered: smiling." — Kate Jackson, co-star in "Charlie's Angels"
"I remember when we had dinner and she said, 'I'm going in to meet with Aaron Spelling on some new TV series about three girls who are detectives.' And the next day she told me, 'Kate Jackson and I are going to be two of them, and they're looking for the third. I set up an appointment for you.' That's the way she was: generous with her friends" — Susie Coelho, TV personality, businesswoman and longtime friend
"Farrah was one of the iconic beauties of our time. Her girl-next-door charm combined with stunning looks made her a star on film, TV and the printed page. I was saddened to learn of her passing earlier today and my thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends." — Hugh Hefner, Playboy magazine founder