Yet another sad news…
We already found out David Carradine among others dying in the past few days.
Now it´s time to say our goodbyes and pay pur respects to one of the biggest TV Divas of all time: Farrah Fawcett. Who passed away today.
Farrah Leni Fawcett (February 2, 1947 – June 25, 2009) was an American actress. A multiple Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominee, Fawcett shot to international fame in 1976 due in part to her role as private investigator Jill Munroe in the TV series Charlie’s Angels. Fawcett went on to become a critically acclaimed actress, appearing off-Broadway and in highly rated television movies in roles often 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 Sacrifices).
Fawcett was also a pop culture figure whose hairstyle was emulated by millions of young women and whose poster sales broke records, making her an international sex symbol in the 1970s and 1980s.
On March 21, 1976, the first appearance of Fawcett playing the character Jill Munroe in Charlie’s Angels was aired as a movie of the week. The movie starred Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and Fawcett (then billed as Farrah Fawcett-Majors) as private investigators for Townsend Associates, a detective agency run by a reclusive multi-millionaire whom the women had never met. Voiced by John Forsythe, the Charles Townsend character presented cases and dispensed advice via a speakerphone to his core team of three female employees, to whom he referred as “Angels.” They were aided in the office and occasionally in the field by two male associates, played by character actors David Doyle and David Ogden Stiers. The program earned a huge Nielsen rating, causing the network to air it a second time and okay production for a series, with all of the principal characters save the one played by Stiers.
The series formally debuted on September 22, 1976, and ran for five seasons. The show would become a smash success not only in the U.S. but, in successive years, in syndication around the world, spawning a cottage industry of peripheral products, particularly in the show’s first three seasons, including several series of bubble gum cards, two sets of fashion dolls, numerous posters, puzzles, and school supplies, novelizations of episodes, toy vans, and a board game, all featuring Fawcett’s likeness. The “Angels” also appeared on the covers of magazines around the world, from countless fan magazines to TV Guide (four times) to Time Magazine.
Fawcett emerged as a fan favorite in the show, and the actress won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Performer in a New TV Program. In a 1977 interview with TV Guide, she said: “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”.
Her appearance in the TV show boosted sales of her poster, and she earned far more in royalties from poster sales than from her salary for appearing in Charlie’s Angels. Her 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.
Fawcett left the show after only one season, and as settlement to a lawsuit stemming from her early departure, she appeared three more times as a guest star in each of seasons three and four. Cheryl Ladd replaced her on the show, portraying Jill’s younger sister Kris Munroe. In 2004, the TV movie Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Charlie’s Angels dramatized the events from the show with supermodel and actress Tricia Helfer portraying Fawcett and Ben Browder portraying Lee Majors, Fawcett’s then-husband.
Farrah Fawcett fight with cancer
Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006, and began treatment, including chemotherapy and surgery. Four months later, on her 60th birthday, the Associated Press wire service reported that Fawcett was, at that point, cancer free. Fawcett 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.”
Less than four months later, in May 2007, Fawcett brought a small digital video camera to document a doctor’s office visit. There, she was told a malignant polyp was found in the area where she 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’s U.S. doctors told her the cancer was inoperable and that she would require a colostomy. Instead, Fawcett traveled to Germany for treatments described variously in the press as “holistic”, “aggressive”, and “alternative”. There, Dr. Ursula Jacob prescribed a treatment including surgery to remove the anal tumor, and a course of perfusion and embolization for her liver cancer by Doctors Claus Kiehling and Thomas Vogl in Germany, and chemotherapy back in Fawcett’s home town of Los Angeles. Although initially the tumors were regressing, their reappearance a few months later necessitated a new course, this time including laser ablation therapy and chemoembolization. Aided by friend Alana Stewart, Fawcett documented the highs and lows of her battle with the disease.
In early April 2009, Fawcett, back in the U.S., was rushed to a hospital, reportedly unconscious and in critical condition. Subsequent reports, however, indicated that the severity of her condition was not as dire as first reported. On April 6, the Associated Press reported that her cancer had metastasized to her liver. Fawcett had learned of this development in May 2007 and her subsequent treatments in Germany had targeted this as well. The report denied that she was unconscious, and explained 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 was 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.” Three days later, on April 9, Fawcett was released from the hospital, picked up by longtime companion O’Neal, and, according to her doctor, was “walking and in great spirits and looking forward to celebrating Easter at home.”
A month later, on May 7, Fawcett was reported as being critically ill, with Ryan O’Neal quoted as saying that she now spends her days at home, on an IV, often asleep. The Los Angeles Times reported that Fawcett was in the last stages of her cancer and had the chance to see her son Redmond in April 2009 under supervision, as he was then incarcerated. Her 91-year-old father James was flown out to visit with his ailing daughter.
Her doctor, Lawrence Piro, and Fawcett’s friend and Angels co-star Kate Jackson — a breast cancer survivor – appeared together on The Today Show dispelling rumors — including that Fawcett had ever been in a coma, had ever reached 86 pounds, and had ever given up her fight against the disease or lost the will to live — as had all been reported in the tabloid press. Jackson decried such demoralizing fabrications, saying they “really do hurt a human being and a person like Farrah”. Piro recalled when it became necessary for Fawcett to undergo treatments that would cause her to lose her hair, acknowledging that “Farrah probably has the most famous hair in the world,” but acknowledged that it is not a trivial matter for any cancer patient, whose hair “affects (one’s) whole sense of who (they) are”. Of the documentary, Jackson averred that Fawcett “didn’t do this to show that she is unique, she did it to show that we are all unique… (T)his was…meant to be a gift to others to help and inspire them.”
The two-hour documentary Farrah’s Story, which was filmed by Fawcett and friend Alana Stewart, aired on NBC on May 15, 2009. The documentary was watched by nearly 9 million people in its premiere airing and it was re-aired on the broadcast network’s cable stations MSNBC, Bravo and Oxygen.
Fawcett died on the morning of June 25, 2009, in the intensive care unit of Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, with O’Neal and Stewart by her side.
May you rest in peace Farrah Fawcett.
Update: The same day that Michael Jackson died. Sad day…