Farrah Fawcett, Forever An Icon

After having watched an episode of Tatum and Ryan O’ Neal’s new reality show, one which heavily focused on Farrah Fawcett, I found myself thinking about her, and the impact she left. It was an impact strong enough to establish a permanent place in the Smithsonian Institute. The red bathing suit she wore in her best selling poster is on display at the same museum as Archie Bunker’s chair, and The Fonz’s leather jacket. There are numerous videos on YouTube showing you how to achieve Farrah hair. You can still buy memorabilia of her on eBay, with some items being pricier than others. Just what continues to make her so special after more than thirty years?

There have been many sex symbols over the years, a lot of them blonde. We can go back to Betty Grable in the ’40s, and Marilyn Monroe in the ’50s. Prior to them was Jean Harlow. In the ’70s, you had Cheryl Tiegs, Suzanne Somers, and Loni Anderson. In the ’90s, there was Pam Anderson. In recent years, Paris Hilton was the IT girl. Jessica Simpson was another. However, there was something unique about Farrah. She stood apart from the rest. For one thing, she looked so healthy. She was tanned and athletic, not toothpick skinny, but with well-toned arms and legs. Her hair was thick and lustrous. It was free and defiant at the same time. Her teeth were perfectly straight, and whiter than white. She was not overdone, meaning she wore very little makeup. She was like a breath of fresh air. Another thing was she had an approachable demeanor. She was someone you could easily see as a girlfriend you went shopping with, or someone you dated. There was an innocence to her. She smiled and giggled a lot, which made her look all the more adorable. As a result, both men and women admired her. In a poll taken in 1977 among a group of junior high students, they selected her as their top role model.

I was in kindergarten when “Charlie’s Angels” and Farrah Fawcett (Majors) burst onto the scene. Both were an instant phenomenon. Although Kate Jackson was my favorite, I liked Farrah too, and requested a Farrah doll for my sixth birthday, which arrived late. It had been on backorder. Farrah became an overnight sensation. In a way, she became bigger than her hit TV show. Her red swimsuit poster sold 12 million copies, a record which has yet to be surpassed. It was seen in “Saturday Night Fever”, and  years later on “That ’70s Show”. Her name was mentioned on other TV shows of the day, from “Good Times” to “Welcome Back, Kotter” to “Donny and Marie”. At one point, she was receiving 700 interview requests per week. There were Farrah mugs, necklaces, dolls, pillows, books, magazines, etc.. even look-a-like contests. Not to mention all the Farrah ‘dos out there. Females of all ages and ethnicities were wearing “the Farrah” in droves. Even some guys wore it. When the style made a comeback in the late ’90s, I too wore a Farrah, along with Beyonce, Valerie Bertinelli, Mary J. Blige, and Toni Braxton- to name a few. It was a fun style to wear, while being sexy at the same time. To make sure it always came out just right, I kept a pic of Farrah from the ’70s in my purse, and would whip it out at the salon.

Farrah shocked us all by leaving “Charlie’s Angels” in 1977, after only one season. Some say she wanted to make movies, while others claim she was being pressured by her husband at the time, Lee Majors. She did start to make films, which bombed at the box office. She was sued for breach of contract for leaving her TV show. As a result, she had to return for six guest appearances over the course of two seasons. On a personal note, those episodes were always fun to watch. She and Lee Majors split. She took up with Ryan O’ Neal. She changed her hair, and became a Mother. She began to receive serious roles in “The Burning Bed”, “Extremities”, and “The Apostle”. She starred on Broadway, and was nominated for Emmys and Golden Globes. People began to take notice of her acting, which was what she wanted. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  When she posed for Playboy, both issues became best-sellers. She briefly had her own reality TV show, Chasing Farrah, on TV Land. I never missed an episode. Through it all, we remained fascinated with the sunny blonde from Texas. No matter what, she could never escape her ’70s persona. It had been far too huge. In later years, she seemed to have come to terms with that part of her life, and began to embrace it. She appeared at the 2004 TV Land Awards to accept the Favorite “Fan” -tastic Phenomenon award. Her friendship with Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith remained intact. The three would make their last public appearance together at the Emmys in 2006, to pay tribute to Aaron Spelling. My sister first discovered “Charlie’s Angels” in the early ’90s. From the start, her favorite angel was Farrah, or Jill Munroe. She would go on to have one of her pictures on her wall.

Despite the fame she achieved, Farrah’s life was not without controversy and pain. Her personal relationships made negative headlines. People accused her of drug use after an infamous appearance on David Letterman’s Show in 1997. She was mocked for having had too much cosmetic surgery. She would lose both her sister and mother over the course of a few years, and see her only child, Redmond, battle with substance abuse. In 2006, it was publicly revealed she had been diagnosed with a rare form of anal cancer. She fought against it, and fought hard. She shared her struggle in Farrah Story’s, which was broadcast in May, 2009 on NBC. The two-hour documentary showed the brutal toll cancer had taken on her, both physically and emotionally. It was raw, and hard to watch. The vomiting, the shaving of her head, the dreaded news the cancer had returned. Over nine million people watched. A little over a month later, she was gone, having passed away at the age of 62.

It may have been the end of an era, but it was not the end of Farrah herself. Her legacy is alive and well, more intact than ever. The whole Farrah experience has been unforgettable, and I am glad to have seen it all.

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~ by kmnnz on July 27, 2011.

4 Responses to “Farrah Fawcett, Forever An Icon”

  1. Thank you for this beautifully written remembrance of Farrah. I often feel alone in my love for Farrah and Charlie’s Angels. You said it well… “I’m glad to have seen it all”. Thanks!

    Michael
    Austin, TX
    FarrahFanForever

    • Thank you so much! Your comment brightened my day 🙂

      Believe me, you are not alone in your love for Farrah and Charlie’s Angels. You have a lot of company. It was a lot of fun seeing it all in its heyday. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything 🙂

      So glad you dropped by!

  2. Great read. thanks

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