Sunday, June 28, 2009 at 11:41 AM
It would be understandable if Farrah Fawcett’s loved ones resent the fact that her death last Thursday has been relegated to an afterthought in 24/7-media coverage of the near-simultaneous death of Michael Jackson.
But this resentment would be more about their inability to bask in her eulogic glory than about any disrespect the media has shown Farrah. Not to mention that it would ignore how shrewd and prescient Farrah was in documenting her three-year battle with anal cancer – in graphic and nauseating detail. For she not only got NBC to pay her millions for this documentary, it might also prove to be the seminal feature of her television legacy.
Meanwhile, Farrah was never more popular than she was in the days after this documentary, entitled Farrah’s Story, aired last month. What’s more, her loved ones (aka guardians) were all over TV back then singing her praises, and testifying to the indispensable role they played in her life….
But frankly, even though she distinguished herself as an actress in a couple roles, most notably the acclaimed TV movie The Burning Bed, her celebrity was based first and foremost on her looks.
She became a star in the 1970s when she played ’Jill Monroe’ on Charlie’s Angles. But she shocked the television world when she abandoned the show after only one season.
More to the point, however, it wasn’t until she posed for a now iconic poster, featuring her ‘Farrah do’ and trademark smile, that she became a bona fide celebrity. It sold an unprecedented 8 million copies.
For the record, I thought David Avedon’s poster of Nastassja Kinski and serpent was far more appealing. Moreover, my regard for Farrah’s celebrity had more to do with her 1973 marriage to the Six Million Dollar Man, Lee Majors, than with her looks. They divorced in 1982.
At any rate, despite her commendable efforts to downplay her sex appeal as the reason for her fame, Farrah herself punctuated this fact by posing for Playboy in 1995 and 1997 (at age 50). And that these issues were bestsellers for Playboy during the 1990s only validated her appeal in this respect.
Farrah is survived by her father and the 24-year-old son she had with long-term partner Ryan O’Neal. She was 62.