Thursday, June 25, 2009


Farrah Fawcett (1947-2009)

It seems as if most eras have their pinup girls and in the mid-'70s, that title undoubtedly belonged to Farrah Fawcett (who had a hyphenated Majors on the end of her name at the time). Fawcett lost her battle with cancer today at 62. The famous poster at the left sold a mind-boggling 8 million copies and led to her most famous role. Skyrocketing to superstardom as one of the original of Charlie's Angels in television's T&A era, like many sudden stars, she overestimated her fame and left the show after a single season, though she did return as Jill Munroe for a handful of episodes in later seasons as settlement of a breach of contract lawsuit. Her TV career didn't actually begin with that series though. She'd earlier appeared on Harry-O and The Six Million Dollar Man (with then-husband Lee Majors) as well as appearances on many other series and in feature films, most notably Logan's Run. Once she left Charlie's Angels, she tried her luck on the big screen, but critics and audiences were skeptical of the poster star as an actress or a movie star. She did work with talented performers (Jeff Bridges in Somebody Killed Her Husband, Charles Grodin and Art Carney in Sunburn and Kirk Douglas in Saturn 3), but none of it seemed to help. Around 1979, she and Majors separated and soon she dropped his last name.

She did get a hit with a film that didn't require acting opposite Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise in The Cannonball Run. Three years later though, she showed some acting chops when she went back to TV for the telefilm The Burning Bed, which earned her an Emmy nomination.

Two years after that, she repeated a success she'd had on stage with the film version of Extremities about a woman getting revenge on a rapist. She continued to prove her doubters wrong, earning two more Emmy nominations and making more features, good and bad, most notably Robert Duvall's The Apostle and Robert Altman's Dr. T and the Women.

Her perseverance was impressive given her off-screen travails with on-again/off-again love Ryan O'Neal, an abusive boyfriend and flaky talk show appearances before the devastating cancer that claimed her life. It was a long, hard climb from poster joke to respected actress, but Farrah Fawcett made it.

RIP Ms. Fawcett. You deserve the rest.

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Edward-- I must confess a soft spot for Farrah who, considering the time when she prevailed, was unusually sweet (geninely so), wholesome and athletic. I find the two early comedies that were supposed to make her career but didn't - Lamont Johnson's "Somebody Killed Her Husband" and Richard C. Sarafian's "Sunburn" - to be exceedingly charming films, too hastily written off. I wish Pakula had better used her in "See You in the Morning" and that Leonard Nimoy hadn't cut her completely out of "Funny About Love." Let's not forget her stellar work on TV in "Poor Little Rich Girl" (as Barbara Hutton) and in "Margaret Bourke-White." -J
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