While watching the local news earlier today to stay up to date on the frigid weather, one of the stories towards the end of the broadcast caught my attention. The red swimsuit Farrah Fawcett wore in her million-selling poster is going to be put on display in the Smithsonian, along with one of the original posters itself, and a folder of scripts from her first and only season on “Charlie’s Angels.” Her longtime companion, Ryan O’ Neal, is donating the items. The news brought a smile to my face. To make it all the more heartwarming is this was revealed on what would have been her 64th birthday.
There have been many sex symbols over the years, women with pretty faces, and flawless physiques. From Betty Grable’s pinup during World War II, to Marilyn Monroe, on to Cheryl Tiegs and Suzanne Somers in the ’70s. There was Pam Anderson in the ’90s. However, there was a certain something about Farrah which made her all the more special, and unforgettable. There was an innocence to her. She was wholesome, plus she looked so healthy. She was suntanned, with the perfect set of the whitest teeth. Her arms were toned, no doubt from playing tennis on a regular basis. And that hair! It was thick, flowing, and long. It alone became a megacelebrity. No matter what she was doing, that hair always looked good, in a defiant kind of way. To this day, there are scores of videos on Youtube demonstrating how to achieve “Farrah hair.” A lot of these women had not been born when Farrah burst onto the scene in 1976. However, they know about the hair. In the late ’90s, her classic style made a big comeback. We saw Gwen Stefani, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Toni Braxton, Valerie Bertinelli, and others proudly sporting Farrahs of their own. I too jumped on the bandwagon and wore a Farrah for a while. It was a look I was proud to wear, one which took a significant amount of time and effort to maintain. It was both fun and sexy.
I was in kindergarten when “Charlie’s Angels” made its debut on ABC in the fall of 1976. Like almost every other young girl, I was captivated by the new show, and its beautiful stars. My personal favorite was Sabrina Duncan, portrayed by Kate Jackson. However, it was Farrah Fawcett (Majors) who got the bulk of the attention. There were lookalike contests, Farrah mugs, a necklace, a glamour center, books, magazine covers by the dozen, wigs, a shampoo line… I called her “the girl with the big, pretty teeth, the one who is always smiling.” For my sixth birthday, one of the gifts I wanted was the 11 inch Farrah Fawcett doll in the green box, by Hasbro. Naturally, the doll was on backorder. When it finally arrived a few days after my birthday, I was thrilled to get it, to say the least. I also had her “Jill” doll, along with Kelly and Sabrina.
Even after her shocking and sudden departure from “Charlie’s Angels” after one season, Farrah remained a huge star. Every move she made garnered attention, from splitting with her husband, Lee Majors, to changing her hair, to becoming a mother. Her acting took on a more mature, serious nature. Roles in movies including “The Burning Bed,” “Extremities,” “Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story,” and “Small Sacrifices” showed she was more than a pretty face, with a bright smile. She proved she could act, which was her goal. She was nominated for Emmy awards for her work. People grew to respect Farrah for her acting. However, she could never escape her ’70s persona. It had been far too big. She appeared at the TV Land awards in 2004 to accept the award for favorite “fan”- tastic phenomenon. I voted for her. She had a brief reality show on TV Land in 2005, simply called “Chasing Farrah.” No matter what went on in her personal or professional life, her audience remained loyal. We continued our love affair with her. This would continue for the rest of her life, which sadly came to a premature end in June of 2009.
Her passing was a loss for many who did not know her personally, including me. In a way, we did know her after all. We watched her on our TV sets for years. Her lovely smile greeted many guys each morning, as her poster adorned their walls. We females worked hard, twisting our arms and hands to get those flips just right in the front, and literally drenched our locks in hairspray to keep it in place. There were the girls of the 1970s, who ran and played “Charlie’s Angels, with there always being a “Jill” in the group. We saw her grow as an actress, share reunions with her fellow Angels co-stars Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith, enter her sixties, lose her sister and mother, break up with Ryan O’ Neal, then stand beside him when he was diagnosed with leukemia. Most dramatic of all, we watched her battle cancer, and witnessed the harsh affect it had on her physically and emotionally. The NBC special “Farrah’s Story”, which aired in May, 2009, had 9 million viewers.
The legacy and appeal of Farrah will continue to last for generations to come. Her impact has been just that enormous. Today’s announcement only solidifies that.