Farrah (spelled Ferrah on her birth certificate) Fawcett was born in Corpus Christi, TX on February 2, 1947. Her mother made up the name Farrah because it went well with Fawcett.
In High School Fawcett was voted “most beautiful” in each of her 4 years of attendance. In 1965 she attended the University of Texas, where she was voted one of the “10 most beautiful coeds on campus”.
A Hollywood agent named David Mirisch saw her pictures and began to contact her about moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in modeling. After 2 years of him pestering her, she agreed and in the summer of 1968, she moved to Hollywood.
Once Fawcett arrived in Hollywood, Screen Gems signed her to a $350 per week contract. She got her start by appearing in commercials for such products as Noxzema, Max Factor, Mercury cars, and Beautyrest mattresses.
Her earliest roles on television were guest appearances on The Flying Nun and I Dream of Jeannie. During this period she began dating Lee Majors.
Fawcett also appeared on Getting Together, Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, Mayberry R.F.D., The Dating Game (featuring a strange, staged fistfight), S.W.A.T, and The Partridge Family.
Her early film roles were in the 1969 French romantic-drama Love Is a Funny Thing and in the sex-change comedy Myra Breckenridge the following year.
Marriage and Bigger Roles
In 1973 she married Lee Majors. She would go on to appear on his show The Six Million Dollar Man 4 times.
Fawcett would also have a recurring role on Harry O. She played Sue Ingram, as a stewardess that lived next door to the titular character. The show was cancelled soon after she began to appear and she was only in 3 episodes.
Superstardom and Charlie’s Angels
In 1976, shortly after the cancellation of Harry O, Pro Arts Inc. pitched the idea of a poster of Fawcett to her agent and she agreed. A photo shoot was set up with photographer Bruce McBroom. For the photo shoot Fawcett styled her own hair and did her makeup without the aid of a mirror.
Fawcett selected her 6 favorite pictures from 40 rolls of film, and the choice was eventually narrowed to the one that became the most iconic and bestselling poster of all-time. Because of the popularity of her poster, Fawcett scored a role in Michael Anderson’s science-fiction movie Logan’s Run (1976).
Fawcett and Majors often played tennis with producer Aaron Spelling. This connection helped Fawcett land the role of Jill Munroe in their upcoming made-for-TV movie, Charlie’s Angels, a movie of the week which aired on March 21, 1976, on ABC. The movie starred Fawcett, Kate Jackson, and Jaclyn Smith as private investigators for Townsend Associates, a detective agency run by a reclusive multimillionaire whom the women had never met. The movie quickly earned a large audience, which caused the network to air it a second time and approve production for a series.
The Charlie’s Angels series proper formally debuted on September 22, 1976. Each of the three actresses was launched into super-stardom, but Fawcett was by far the most popular. That year she won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Performer in a New TV Program.
“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.” – Farrah fawcett, 1977
Despite the huge success of the show Fawcett earned far more in royalties from poster sales than from her salary for appearing in Charlie’s Angels.
In the spring of 1977, Fawcett left Charlie’s Angels after only one season. She never officially signed her series contract with Spelling, owing to protracted negotiations over royalties from her image’s use in peripheral products, which led to a messy and expensive lawsuit filed by Spelling and his company when she quit the show. As a result of leaving her contract four years early, she signed a new contract with ABC, stating that she would make 6 guest appearances on Charlie’s Angels over a 2 year period.
Life After an Angel
Fawcett and Majors split in 1979 when she got involved with actor Ryan O’Neal, but they wouldn’t divorce until 1982. Fawcett and O’Neal would have a son, Redmond, who was born in 1985.
She made a few flops after leaving Charlie’s Angels – Saturn 3 (1980), Sunburn (1979) and Somebody Killed Her Husband (1978).
Her biggest success came in the movie and play versions of Extremities, for which her performance received critical acclaim, including a Golden Globe Nomination for the 1986 movie version. 3 years later Fawcett would receive another Golden Globe nomination for The Burning Bed. In total she would be nominated 6 times for this award during her lifetime.
In 1997 Fawcett would pose for Playboy at the age of 50.
In 2006, Fawcett would be diagnosed with anal cancer. She would succumb to the disease on June 25, 2009 at the age of 62.
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