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The Stuff of Legend: 2009 Film Florida Legends Awards by ED Tucker
R.I.P. Farrah Fawcett, 1947--2009 by Lisa Scherer Ciurro
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R.I.P. Farrah Fawcett, 1947--2009
The infamous poster.
What is every plumber's dream?
To fix Farrah's faucet and Olivia Newton's john.
That's the first joke I ever learned and I thought it was hilarious when I was nine years old (and still find it amusing today). That joke is how I learned about Farrah Fawcett and who and what she was – the sexy, giggly, jiggly Charlie's Angels star who was adored and lusted after by every man on earth, both plumbers and non-plumbers alike.
I adore Farrah Fawcett too, but for different reasons. I'm more of a fan of Farrah the woman than of Farrah the actress. She was a strong person who made brave choices and lived an interesting life.
She was sexy and she knew it. After some commercials and a few minor TV guest spots, Farrah burst on the scene as Jill Munroe in Charlie's Angels in 1976; life as we knew it changed forever. Guys spent hours staring at Farrah's red bathing suit poster and girls spent hours feathering their hair trying to have "Farrah hair" (which never looked as good as hers and took a hell of a long time to create; yes I'm speaking from personal experience). Her character in The Cannonball Run earns the nickname Beauty by the end of the movie. Her brief appearance in Logan's Run is one of the best parts of that film.
She was more than just another pretty face. Seemingly determined to prove that she could do more than smile and jiggle, Farrah chose unglamorous roles in movies such as The Burning Bed and Extremities, surprising everyone with her solid performances. She was nominated for an Emmy for her portrayal of a battered wife in the TV movie The Burning Bed, which was the highest-rated television movie of the 1984 season. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her portrayal of a rape-attempt victim who turns the table on her would-be attacker in Extremities (1986). Her performance as Robert Duvall's wife in The Apostle garnered her an Independent Spirit Award nomination in 1997.
Farrah as the abused wife in The Burning Bed
She successfully portrayed real women on screen. In addition to playing sex kittens and victimized women, Farrah portrayed heiress Barbara Hutton, photographer Margaret Bourke-White, murdering mother Diane Downs and German activist Beate Klarsfeld.
She was still sexy at age 50 and she knew it. She posed nude for Playboy when she was 48 and then again in July 1997 at age 50. She also made a video where she "painted" a canvas with her body. Who says sexiness stops at 30? (There's a Logan's Run joke in there somewhere, I just know it.)
She wasn't perfect. She and actor Lee Majors divorced in 1982 after nine years of marriage. For 25+ years, Farrah had an on-again, off-again romantic relationship with actor Ryan O'Neal. She had a notorious, disastrous appearance on David Letterman's show in 1997, appearing incoherent and distracted. Farrah was either drunk/drugged during the show or just so terrible at playing comedy that her attempts at humor caused people to think she was drunk or drugged. Several of her movies were flops, as was her short-lived reality series Chasing Farrah.
She was dealt a triple whammy by her diagnosis of anal cancer in 2006. Besides the obvious fact that a cancer diagnosis is terrifying and life-altering (and sometimes life-ending), there's the infrequently-acknowledged fact that cancer treatment can ravage one's appearance. So after a lifetime of embracing, enjoying and transcending her sexiness, Farrah had to undergo chemo and suffer its effects of weight loss and hair loss. She wasn't just an attractive woman losing her full head of hair, she was Farrah Fawcett from the sell-out sexy bathing suit poster who was losing her full head of "Farrah hair" with the tabloids snooping around trying to snap an embarrassing photo or two.
Cancer diagnosis – not fair. Sexy Farrah Fawcett having to suffer the effects of chemo and cancer – doubly not fair. And to have been diagnosed with anal cancer? A relatively rare cancer than no one talks or knows much about, but that is maybe somewhat embarrassing and that can be easily made fun of and speculated about by the tabloids and obnoxious jerks? Triple unfairness. But Farrah did things her way, as usual. She documented her cancer experience on film in the May 2009 documentary Farrah's Story, which MSNBC called "an uncompromising look at what cancer does to a human being, and what a human being does in retaliation to cancer when she simply won’t submit."
In addition to her legendary sexiness and some surprisingly solid acting chops, Farrah Fawcett's honesty and openness at the end of her life will become a part of her legacy. She was a strong woman who made bold choices and lived a most interesting life.
Rest in peace, Farrah. And thanks.
"FANGRRL" is ©2009 by Lisa Scherer Ciurro. All graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.