Actress Farrah Fawcett died on June 25 in Los Angeles at the age of 62. With her passing after a long battle with anal cancer, we lose one of the quintessential symbols of post-feminist Hollywood, a definitive pinup who somehow parlayed a delicate-flower demeanor and all-American beauty into a 30-year career.
“After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved Farrah has passed away,” Fawcett’s longtime companion Ryan O’Neal said via a statement.”Although this is an extremely difficult time for her family and friends, we takecomfort in the beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and theknowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world.”
As it turned out, her bravest role of all was her final one: She shared every brutally unglamorous step of her cancer treatment with the world in the riveting NBC documentary Farrah’s Story. Perhaps most touchingly, the film gave its 9 million viewers a glimpse of her extraordinary love affair with O’Neal, who has supported her throughout treatment — and even told Barbara Walters on a recent 20/20 that he’d finally asked her to marry him after nearly 25 years together: “We will, just as soon as she can say yes.” Sadly, Fawcett died before before the two wed.
The former University of Texas sorority girl became an instant star when she sashayed onto Charlie’s Angels in 1976. (Her trademark poster — shot pre-Angels — hit stores that same year, cementing her role as a sex symbol.) Fawcett left the show after only one season, and, after a string of big-screen flops, finally earned critical praise in the mid ’80s with the off-Broadway play Extremities and the NBC movie The Burning Bed. (Her role, as an abused wife, earned the actress her first Emmy nomination.)
In1985, Fawcett — divorced from Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors — struck up her romance with O’Neal, and the two had a son, Redmond James O’Neal. Throughout the next decade, she attracted plenty of criticalpraise for her on camera work, including 1997’s The Apostle and 2000’s Dr. T and the Women.But she also engaged in her share of public foibles — anaked-body-painting layout in a 1995 Playboy, a famously addled appearance on David Letterman’s Late Show in 1997. She even tried to tell her own story in 2005 with the short-lived TV Land reality series Chasing Farrah, to roundly dismissive reviews.
In2006, Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer. After undergoingchemotherapy and radiation, the actress was cancer-free. Unfortunately,doctors found the disease had returned in 2007. Even as her treatment resumed — and family’s drug battles continued to make headlines — Fawcett managed to maintain an upbeat outlook. As Alana Stewart, friend and co-producer of Farrah’s Story, told EW.com in April, “She’s always been positive. Her spirits have always been good throughout this ordeal.”
In lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations to support cancerresearch be made to The Farrah Fawcett Foundation c/o P.O. Box 6478, BeverlyHills, CA 90212. –-Jennifer Armstrong (Additional reporting by Jeff Jensen, Dan Snierson, and Tim Stack)