Date: 6/25/2009 6:25 PM

AP-US-Obit-Fawcett/1333
‘Charlie’s Angel’ Farrah Fawcett dies at 62

LYNN ELBER
AP Television Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A winsome smile, tousled hair and unfettered
sensuality were Farrah Fawcett’s trademarks as a sex symbol and 1970s
TV star in “Charlie’s Angels.”

But as her life drew to a close,
she captivated the public in a far different way: as a cancer patient
who fought for, then surrendered, her treasured privacy to document her
struggle with the disease and inspire others.

Fawcett, 62, died
Thursday morning at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, nearly
three years after being diagnosed with anal cancer. Ryan O’Neal, the
longtime companion who returned to her side when she became ill, was
with her.

“After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved
Farrah has passed away,” O’Neal said. “Although this is an extremely
difficult time for her family and friends, we take comfort in the
beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and the
knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world.”

In the end, Fawcett sought to offer more than that, re-emerging in the spotlight with a new gravitas.

In
“Farrah’s Story,” which aired last month, she made public her painful
treatments and dispiriting setbacks — from shaving her golden locks
before chemotherapy could claim them to undergoing experimental
treatments in Germany.

“Her big message to people is don’t give
up. No matter what they say to you, keep fighting,” Alana Stewart, who
filmed Fawcett as she underwent treatment, said last month. NBC
estimated the May 15, 2009, broadcast drew nearly 9 million viewers.

In
the documentary, she also recounted her efforts to unmask the source of
leaks from her UCLA Medical Center records, which led a hospital
employee to plead guilty to violating a federal privacy law for selling
celebrities’ information to the National Enquirer.

“There are no
words to express the deep sense of loss that I feel,” Stewart said
Thursday. “For 30 years, Farrah was much more than a friend. She was my
sister, and although I will miss her terribly, I know in my heart that
she will always be there as that angel on the shoulder of everyone who
loved her.”

Other “Charlie’s Angels” stars also paid tribute.

“Farrah
had courage, she had strength, and she had faith. And now she has peace
as she rests with the real angels,” Jaclyn Smith said.

Said Cheryl Ladd: “She was incredibly brave, and God will be welcoming her with open arms.”

Kate
Jackson said she would remember Fawcett’s “kindness, her cutting, dry
wit and, of course, her beautiful smile. Today when you think of Farrah
remember her smiling because that is exactly how she wanted to be
remembered, smiling.”

Fawcett became a sensation in 1976 as
one-third of the crime-fighting trio in “Charlie’s Angels.” A poster of
her in a clingy, red swimsuit sold in the millions and her full,
layered hairstyle became all the rage, with girls and women across
America mimicking the look.

She left the show after one season
but had a flop on the big screen with “Somebody Killed Her Husband.”
She turned to more serious roles in the 1980s and 1990s, winning praise
playing an abused wife in “The Burning Bed.”

Born Feb. 2, 1947,
in Corpus Christi, Texas, she was named Mary Farrah Leni Fawcett by her
mother, who said she added the Farrah because it sounded good with
Fawcett. As a student at the University of Texas at Austin, she was
voted one of the 10 most beautiful people on the campus and her photos
were eventually spotted by movie publicist David Mirisch, who suggested
she pursue a film career.

She appeared in a string of
commercials, including one where she shaved quarterback Joe Namath, and
in such TV shows as “That Girl,” ”The Flying Nun,” ”I Dream of
Jeannie” and “The Partridge Family.”

She was diagnosed with anal
cancer in 2006. According to the American Cancer Society Web site, an
estimated 5,290 Americans, most of them adults over 35, will be
diagnosed with that type of cancer this year, and there will be 710
deaths.

As she underwent treatment, she enlisted the help of O’Neal, who was the father of her now 24-year-old son, Redmond.

This
month, O’Neal said he asked Fawcett to marry him and she agreed. They
would wed “as soon as she can say yes,” he said, but it never happened.

Fawcett,
Jackson and Smith made up the original “Angels,” the sexy,
police-trained trio of martial arts experts who took their assignments
from a rich, mysterious boss named Charlie (John Forsythe, who was
never seen on camera but whose distinctive voice was heard on speaker
phone.)

The program debuted in September 1976, the height of what
some critics derisively referred to as television’s “jiggle show” era,
and it gave each of the actresses ample opportunity to show off their
figures as they disguised themselves as hookers and strippers to solve
crimes.

Backed by a clever publicity campaign, Fawcett — then
billed as Farrah Fawcett-Majors because of her marriage to “The Six
Million Dollar Man” star Lee Majors — quickly became the most popular
Angel of all.

Her face helped sell T-shirts, lunch boxes,
shampoo, wigs and even a novelty plumbing device called Farrah’s
faucet. Her flowing blond hair, pearly white smile and trim, shapely
body made her a favorite with male viewers in particular.

The
public and the show’s producer, Spelling-Goldberg, were shocked when
she announced after the series’ first season that she was leaving
television’s No. 5-rated series to star in feature films. (Ladd became
the new “Angel” on the series.)

But film turned out to be a
platform where Fawcett was never able to duplicate her TV success. Her
first star vehicle, the comedy-mystery “Somebody Killed Her Husband,”
flopped and Hollywood cynics cracked that it should have been titled
“Somebody Killed Her Career.”

The actress had also been in line
to star in “Foul Play” for Columbia Pictures. But the studio opted for
Goldie Hawn instead. Fawcett told the Associated Press in 1979 that
Spelling-Goldberg sabotaged her, warning “all the studios that that
they would be sued for damages if they employed me.”

She finally reached an agreement to appear in three episodes of “Charlie’s Angels” a season, an experience she called “painful.”

After
a short string of unsuccessful movies, Fawcett found critical success
in the 1984 television movie “The Burning Bed,” which earned her an
Emmy nomination.

As further proof of her acting credentials,
Fawcett appeared off-Broadway in “Extremities,” playing a woman who
seeks revenge against her attacker after being raped in her own home.
She repeated the role in the 1986 film version.

Not content to
continue playing victims, she switched type to take on roles as a
murderous mother in the 1989 true-crime story “Small Sacrifices” and a
tough lawyer on the trail of a thief in 1992’s “Criminal Behavior.”

She also starred in biographies of Nazi-hunter Beate Klarsfeld and photographer Margaret Bourke-White.

In
1995, at age 50, Fawcett stirred controversy posing partly nude for
Playboy magazine. The following year, she starred in a Playboy video,
“All of Me,” in which she was equally unclothed while she sculpted and
painted.

Fawcett’s most unfortunate career moment may have been a
1997 appearance on David Letterman’s show, when her disjointed,
rambling answers led many to speculate that she was on drugs. She
denied that, blaming her strange behavior on questionable advice from
her mother to be playful and have a good time.

In September 2006,
Fawcett, who at 59 still maintained a strict regimen of tennis and
paddleball, began to feel strangely exhausted. She underwent two weeks
of tests that revealed the cancer.

“I do not want to die of this disease. So I say to God, ‘It is seriously time for a miracle,'” she said in “Farrah’s Story.”


In a December 30, 1993 photo, Farrah Fawcett, appears at the Bay Area Medical Center in Corpus Christi, Texas on behalf of the Women’s Shelter of the Corpus Christi Area. Fawcett
died, Thursday, June 25, 2009, at a hospital in Los Angeles. She was
62. (AP Photo/Corpus Christi Caller-Times, George Gongora)

** CORRECTS YEAR TO 1977 **
FILE – In this Jan. 1977 file photo originally provided by ABC, Farrah
Fawcett-Majors, who plays Jill in “Charlie’s Angels” is seen on a skateboard in a recent episode. Fawcett died, Thursday, June 25, 2009, at a hospital in Los Angeles. She was 62. (AP Photo/ABC-TV) ** NO SALES **

FILE – In this 1977 file photo originally released by ABC, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, from the series “Charlie’s Angels,” is shown. Fawcett died Thursday, June 25, 2009 in a Los Angeles hospital. She was 62. (AP Photo, file)


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