Farrah Fawcett (born February 2, 1947) is an American actress. She is
a noted pop culture figure whose hairstyle was emulated by millions of young
women, and a sex symbol for millions of young men in the 1970s and 1980s.
She went on to become a critically accepted actress, appearing off-Broadway
and in acclaimed television movies in challenging (The Burning Bed, Nazi
Hunter: The Beate Klarsfeld Story, Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton
Story, Margaret Bourke-White), and sometimes unsympathetic (Small
Farrah Fawcett was born as Ferrah Leni Fawcett in Corpus Christi, Texas, the younger of two daughters, of Pauline (née Evans), a homemaker, and James Fawcett, an oil field contractor. Farah (فرح) is an Arabic word for "joy". Ferrah (later changed to "Farrah") attended Spring Branch Junior High School near Houston for one year. She graduated from W. B. Ray High School in Corpus Christi 1965. She was given the title "Most Beautiful" with Gray Evans being runner up. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and is a sister of Delta Delta Delta Sorority.
The late 1960s and early 1970s saw Farrah doing commercials and TV guest spots. In April 1976, a poster company Pro Arts Inc., that had started out making anti-war posters, started to hear about a young up-and-coming beauty named Farrah Fawcett doing Wella Balsam shampoo commercials. They got in touch with her agent at the time, Rick Hersh, and arranged a photo shoot. Farrah arranged to have Bruce McBroom, a freelance photographer with whom she had worked before, do the shoot. McBroom took the pictures by the pool at Farrah's Bel Air, California home. For the back drop, McBroom used the worn, old Indian blanket covering his 1937 Chevrolet car seat.
On September 22, 1976, the first episode of Farrah playing the character Jill Munroe in the TV series Charlie's Angels was aired. Around the same time, her swimsuit poster was released. It went on to sell a still-unrivaled 12 million copies and she became known for her tousled hair and bright smile. The hairstyle went on to become an international trend, with women sporting a "Farrah Do" or "Farrah Hair" and the hairstyle was even spoofed in various media, including Redd Foxx's variety show on ABC and Dynamite magazine. Charlie's Angels went on to become a huge hit, but after just one year Farrah left the show. As settlement to a lawsuit stemming from her early departure, Farrah appeared three more times as a guest star in each of seasons three and four. Cheryl Ladd (who portrayed Jill's younger sister Kris) joined the show during the interim. In 2004, the TV movie Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Charlie's Angels dramatized the events from the show with actress Tricia Helfer portraying Farrah and Ben Browder portraying Lee Majors, Fawcett's then-husband.
Farrah achieved critical praise and the first of three Emmy Award nominations as a serious actress for her role as a battered wife in the 1984 TV movie The Burning Bed. She also won acclaim in the off-Broadway stage and movie version of Extremities, in which she played a rape victim who turns the tables on her attacker. She then played a predatory role in another miniseries, Small Sacrifices, receiving a second Emmy nomination. Her third Emmy nomination came in 2004 for her work in The Guardian. Farrah has been nominated for several other awards as well a Golden Globe and ACE awards.
Fawcett, who steadfastly resisted appearing nude in films or magazines throughout the 1970s and 1980s, caused a major stir by posing nude in the December 1995 issue of Playboy, which became the best-selling issue of the 1990s, with over 4 million copies sold worldwide. At the age of 50, she returned to the pages of Playboy with a pictorial for the July 1997 issue, which also became a top seller.
Farrah was married to Lee Majors, star of The Six Million Dollar Man, from 1973–1982, though the two separated in 1979. During this time, she was known as Farrah Fawcett-Majors. From 1982 to the present, Farrah has been involved romantically with actor Ryan O'Neal. The relationship produced a son, Redmond O'Neal, who was born in 1985. Redmond has struggled with addiction. Convicted of driving under the influence, he has been arrested for possession of narcotics, including on April 5, 2009, following a routine search at a jail security checkpoint while Farrah was in the hospital.
On June 5, 1997, Farrah received some negative commentary after giving a rambling and distracted interview on The Late Show with David Letterman. Months later, she told the host of The Howard Stern Show that her behavior was in fact just her way of joking around with the television host, explaining that what appeared to be random looks across the theater was just her looking and reacting to fans in the audience. Though the Letterman appearance spawned speculation and several jokes at her expense, after Joaquin Phoenix's mumbling act on a February 2009 appearance on The Late Show, Letterman wrapped up the interview by saying, "Joaquin, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight", followed by, "We owe an apology to Farrah Fawcett."
In the first half of 2006, Farrah suffered several personal losses including the deaths of her mother Pauline; her elder half-sister Diane, from lung cancer; her agent Jay Bernstein; and one-time mentor Aaron Spelling (producer of Charlie's Angels).
On October 4, 2006, it was revealed that Farrah was suffering from anal cancer, and was undergoing treatment, including chemotherapy and surgery.
The Associated Press wire service reported on her 60th birthday that Farrah was, at that point, cancer free. Farrah said in a statement, "This is an extraordinarily happy day for me and my family. I hope that my news might offer some level of inspiration to others who unfortunately must continue to fight the disease."
On Wednesday, May 16, 2007, it was reported that a malignant polyp was found in the area where Farrah had been treated for the initial cancer. Doctors contemplated whether to implant a radiation seeder (which differs from conventional radiation and is used to treat other types of cancer). Fawcett, however, chose to travel to Germany (with O'Neal) for holistic treatments. This treatment in Germany has been recorded for a possible reality television show.
On Saturday, April 4, 2009, it was reported that Farrah had been rushed to a hospital several days earlier, where she was unconscious and in critical condition. Subsequent reports, however, indicated that the severity of her condition was not as dire as first reported.
An April 6, 2009, AP article reported that her cancer had metastasized to her liver. Farrah had learned of this development in May 2007 and the treatment she has received since then has targeted this as well. The report denied that she was unconscious, and illuminated that the reason for Fawcett's hospitalization was not her cancer but a painful abdominal hematoma that had been the result of a minor procedure, according to the Los Angeles cancer specialist treating Fawcett, Dr. Lawrence Piro. Her spokesperson emphasized she is not "at death's door", adding "She remains in good spirits with her usual sense of humor.… She's been in great shape her whole life and has an incredible resolve and an incredible resilience."
On April 9, the AP reported that Farrah had been released from the hospital, that longtime companion O'Neal had picked her up, and that according to her doctor, she was "walking and in great spirits and looking forward to celebrating Easter at home."
On May 7, People Magazine reported that Ms. Farrah is critically ill and quoted O'Neal as saying her treatment had pretty much ended and that she now spends her days at home, often asleep. After this announcement, the Los Angeles Times reported that Farrah is in the last stages of her cancer and had the chance to see her son in April 2009 under supervision, as he was currently incarcerated. Her son reported that her weight was down to 86 pounds. In addition to her son, her 91-year-old father was being flown out to visit with his ailing daughter. O'Neal said she wrote him a note which read "I've lived a full and wonderful life. I've loved and been loved. I'm happy. I'm ready."
A two-hour documentary shot by Farrah and her friend Alana Stewart and documenting Fawcett's battle with the disease will air on NBC on May 15, 2009. She died June 25, 2009.
This Farrah Fawcett Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub