This Just In 6/30/09: Funeral services for Farrah Fawcett are being held at 4p.m. PST at the Cathedral of Our Lady Angels in downtown Los Angeles today. Her son, Redmond O’Neal, has been permitted to leave the Pitchess Detention Center where he is serving time for violating probation on drug charges in order to attend his mother’s funeral.
This Just In 6/22/09: Ryan O’Neal will finally marry Farrah Fawcett after 30 years of a passionate on-again, off-again relationship. O’Neal says he plans to marry her “as soon as she can say yes.” In an interview last month, O’Neal accounted for the fact that they’ve waited this long to say their official “I do’s”. “You know she’s been married, I’ve been married,” said O’Neal. “She’s said, ‘We have a good thing.’ But I said, ‘You said that 30 years ago! Shouldn’t there be a sea change?’ Maybe there is, you never know.” Barbara Walters recently spoke with O’Neal and the interview will air on 20/20 Friday, June 26, 2009, at 10pm et/pt. During the interview, he said, “I used to ask her to marry me all the time, but … it just got to be a joke, you know. We just joked about it.” When Walters asked him if they are serious about tying the knot, he said, “Absolutely.”
When I was a little girl, I thought Farrah Fawcett was the most beautiful woman in the world. Although I wouldn’t hang it on my wall like all the boys did, I thought the poster
featuring her in a red bathing suit with golden locks tumbling down her soulders and a white, toothy smile was magical. Although my hair was brunette and curly, that didn’t stop me from getting a haircut like hers, in the hopes that the hair would make me beautiful, like her.
My parents loved Charlie’s Angels, and we watched the show as a family, although between myself, my two teenaged brothers, my mother and my father, we were probably all thinking different thoughts. When Farrah left the show, we stopped watching, and that really says it all.
Later, I went to a performance of “Extremities” in New York City. The theatre was small, and my seat was close to the small stage. Though playing a part that required the opposite of beauty to be believable, Farrah was still beautiful to me. That was the only time I saw her in person, though I recall images of her on the beach, skateboarding, jogging with first husband Lee Majors on the beach, with husband Ryan O’Neal and new baby as though they were photos of my family, they’re so etched in my memory.
The reality though, was that though I felt I knew her (I think everyone felt like they knew Farrah) I didn’t really know that much about her. And it wasn’t until NBC’s “Farrah’s Story” appeared on television recently, that I became interested, really interested in her.
Her life story read like a novel, surprises to mistakes to tragedies to triumphs- but above all I was impressed by her good works. That someone as beautiful as Farrah Fawcett could devote so much of herself to helping others in so many ways, impressed me beyond words.
So here’s another “Farrah’s Story”, the one that, like me, you thought you knew but didn’t:
Originally the all-American girl from Corpus Christi, Texas, Farrah Fawcett started modeling during her senior year at W. B. Ray High School in 1965, when she was voted best looking. In college, she majored in microbiology, but switched to art her sophomore year. She became a serious model in the early 1970s, appearing in TV commercials for shaving cream, toothpaste, and shampoo products. She began her effortless transition from commercials to TV when she made a guest appearance on I Dream of Jeannie in 1968. Her beauty and charm quickly caught the attention of Hollywood execs, and she started to guest star in more TV shows.
In 1976, Farrah posed for the famous poster shot of her wearing a red swimsuit, which many young boys hung on their walls during the 1970s and 1980s. In that year alone, eight million copies of the poster were sold, making her an instantly recognizable pinup girl. It’s easily passed the test of time, now being featured in the prestigious Smithsonian along with Fonzie’s jacket and Archie Bunker’s chair. In 2007, GQ Magazine called it “the most influential piece of men’s art of the last 50 years,” and AOL users voted it the #1 Pin Up of All Time, beating out America’s previous quintessential sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe. She retained her sex symbol status throughout the years, and in 1995, at the age of 48, she made her triumphant return to modeling, creating quite a stir when she posed nude for Playboy. That issue of Playboy sold more copies than any other during the 1990s.
Without a doubt, Fawcett is best known for playing the role of Jill Munroe in Charlie’s Angels, which first aired in 1976. The show skyrocketed in popularity, and in a TV Guide interview, Fawcett once quipped, “When the show was number three, I thought it was our acting. When we got to be number one, I decided it could only be because none of us wears a bra.” She stayed on for only one season, but she remains the iconic image of Charlie’s Angels anyway.
Years later, Farrah turned to dramatic stage acting, and in 1983 starred in William Mastrosimone’s Extremities, an off-Broadway play and later a film about a rape victim who takes revenge on her attacker, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture—Drama. Fawcett starred in a TV movie called The Burning Bed about domestic abuse, which earned her the first of three Emmy nominations. She then hosted the TV documentary Prisoners of Wedlock, which offered an intimate look at four different women serving life sentences in prison for murdering their husbands because of domestic abuse. She went so far as to petition then-governor of California Pete Wilson to try and commute the women’s sentences.
They say that art imitates life, and that’s certainly true for Fawcett, for whom domestic abuse awareness has always been an important cause. Her son Redmond has been imprisoned for DUI and drug offences, and longtime partner Ryan O’Neal and his son from a previous marriage Griffin, have been involved with domestic abuse incidents involving guns and violence.
Farrah was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006, but four months later she was given the all clear. Another four months later, not only had the cancer returned, but it had spread to her liver. “Of all the things I’ve ever hoped for in my life,” she said in a two-hour special called Farrah’s Story that aired on NBC on Friday May 15, “finding a doctor to surgically remove my anal cancer did not even make the top one million on my list. But now it was number one, number one as in, primary cancer, meaning it was the first in and for that reason, it needed to be the first out. Because it was this peanut-sized tumor that had sent its army of mutant cells into any organ into my body unless someone did something to stop it.”
Still, it’s understandable why cancer was not on Fawcett’s top list of worries. She once said, “My number one goal is to love, support, and be there for my son.” Even now, as she fights this terrible disease, her mind is on helping other people. Ironically, when she discovered she had anal cancer, being the issue-oriented person she is, she turned even that experience into an opportunity to educate others on cancer, as you will see if you watch Farrah’s Story.
Fawcett is no stranger to the tragedy of cancer. Several of her loved ones have battled cancer, including her co-stars on Charlie’s Angels Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith, both of whom had breast cancer. Her sister, Diane Fawcett Walls died of lung cancer on October 16, 2006, just before her 63rd birthday. In 2001, her partner Ryan O’Neal was diagnosed with non-threatening leukemia. In an interview with People, O’Neal said about Farrah, “At about the halfway point in our trips [to Germany, for treatment], the news started to get darker and darker and darker. The hope started to fade. But not for Farrah. She continued fighting. There was always a courage there, and a quiet dignity. Farrah never changed.”
Indeed, Fawcett has always been generous and optimistic, and she has been involved with many charity initiatives. In addition to her work with domestic violence, she has also been a longtime proponent of the Cancer Society. Throughout her battles with the disease, Fawcett has never given up hope and continues to fight for a cure.
“I was told they needed me to ‘bite the bullet’ and that would require great courage and unfailing determination,” she said. “In the face of excruciating pain and uncertainly, I never lost hope and it never occurred to me to stop fighting—not ever. This experience has also humbled me by giving me a true understanding of what millions of others face each day in their own fight against cancer … So to those who are still struggling toward their own victory, stay determined, ‘fight the fight’ and I will keep you and your families in my thoughts and prayers.”