When it comes to Hollywood blondes, Farrah Fawcett is absolutely essential.
Best remembered for her landmark role in Charlie’s Angels, this American actress was the “girl next door” of the 1970s and 80s. Behind the big roles and big hair, however, Fawcett’s life was less than salon perfect. Gear up to these 42 bombshell facts about Farrah Fawcett.
Farrah Fawcett Facts
1. An International Making
Farrah Fawcett was born to a Texas oil field contractor and a homemaker on February 2, 1947. She was the youngest of two daughters.
2. An “F” for Effort
Fawcett’s first name was improvised. Her mother named her “Farrah” simply because it would sound nice in front of the name “Fawcett.”
3. Fourth Time’s the Charm
Surprising no none, Fawcett was elected “Most Beautiful” of her class during her freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years at high school.
4. The Head of Her Class
Obviously, Fawcett had no awkward teenage years, but things only got better for her when she entered college. Fawcett was the first freshman in her college to be chosen for the “Ten Most Beautiful Coeds on Campus.” Taking note of her beauty awards, talent agencies across America started to look up her photographs.
5. Too Cool to Leave School
Fawcett was pursued by Hollywood agent David Mirisch for two years. He had seen her stuff and urged Fawcett to move to Los Angeles. As a student devoted to her studies, Fawcett initially turned him down. It wasn’t until 1968 that she finally took up Mirisch’s offer, gaining permission from her parents to “try her luck” at stardom.
6. With That Hair, She Knows Her Product
Just because she was beautiful didn’t mean fame came easily. In her early career, Fawcett paid her dues as a commercial actress. She starred in TV ads for Noxzema, Max Factor, Mercury Cougar automobiles, and even Beautyrest mattresses. Her small-screen profile finally grew with guest parts in shows like The Flying Nun and I Dream of Jeannie.
7. Make Love, Not War
After years of grinding, Fawcett’s career kicked off with a single, iconic poster. In 1976, the company Pro Arts Inc. pitched Fawcett and her agent the idea of a poster. Founded by the Canton brothers, Pro Arts was originally in the business of anti-war posters. Later, they decided to branch themselves out into Hollywood…and to Farrah Fawcett.
8. Literal Poster Girl
Farrah Fawcett’s Pro Arts swimsuit poster initially sold 12 million copies. To this day, it remains the best-selling poster of all time.
9. A Sour Touch for a Sweet Look
For her iconic 1976 poster, Fawcett styled herself. In addition to choosing the swimsuit, she also did her own hair. A spray of lemon juice later—to empathize her blonde highlights—and the iconic “Farrah Flip” was born.
10. From Your Bedroom Wall to the Big Screen
Fawcett’s poster-girl fame put her on the map. The attention nabbed Fawcett her first movie role, albeit a small one: she was cast as “Holly 13” in the sci-fi camp classic Logan’s Run.
11. Serving up Roles
Fawcett nabbed her most famous television role as a result of (1) her husband and (2) her love of tennis. She and then-hubby Lee Majors were frequent tennis partners with television producer Aaron Spelling. When it came time to cast the role of Jill Munroe in his TV movie Charlie’s Angles, Spelling took note of his pretty tennis pal and cast Fawcett.
12. The Highest of Heavens
Fawcett was quantifiably the most popular character in Charlie’s Angels, at least upon its 1976 premiere. After it made the leap from TV movie to television series, the public was polled about their favorite of the angels. The undeniably beautiful Fawcett topped the tallies, though the show launched all three actresses into stardom.
13. Born to Hold Herself up
In 1977, Fawcett got glib about why she thought most people loved Charlie’s Angels: “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.”
14. The Fall of an Angel
After she ended her run on Charlie’s Angels, Fawcett had an initially tough time getting back on her feet. Her first three cinematic feature outros—Somebody Killed Her Husband (1978), Sunburn (1979), and Saturn 3 (1980)—were critical and commercial failures. Small screen success doesn’t always translate to the big picture.
15. Let’s Get Real
After a few false starts in the movies, Fawcett finally discovered critical acclaim on the stage. In 1983, she replaced Susan Sarandon in the Broadway stage production of Extremities, a play where three female roommates turn the tables on their wannabe attacker. This gritty part was a departure from Fawcett’s glossier roles.
The actress would describe it as “the most grueling, the most intense, the most physically demanding and emotionally exhausting” part of her career.”
16. Television That Cares
In 1984, Fawcett received her first Emmy Award nomination for her role as a battered wife in the TV movie The Burning Bed. The role did more than establish Fawcett’s serious talents: The Burning Bed is also the first television movie to offer the number for a helpline—in this case, one where victims of domestic violence could find support.
17. A Gal of the Globe
Farrah revived her Broadway role in Extremities for the play’s 1986 movie adaptation. She was nominated for a Golden Globe. There were even talks that she would be nominated for an Oscar, but it didn’t work out.
18. Bearing All…on Her Terms
Fawcett refused to sign nude photos of herself from her 1980 film Saturn 3. This was her personal policy throughout the 80s—which meant it was quite a shock to see her pose semi-nude in Playboy in December 1995.
19. Never Too Old to Get Into Art
One of Playboy’s top-selling issues (July 1997) features Farrah Fawcett. The issue accompanied a video of Fawcett using her body as a paint canvas—something she had wanted to try for years. She was 50 years old at the time.
20. All Talk, No Walk
In 1997, Farrah Fawcett received bad press for her “rambling” and borderline incoherent interview on the Late Show with David Letterman. She would later explain this as simply her joking around. Nevertheless, rumors of Fawcett being an unstable substance addict would follow her around as a result, but she eventually got a special kind of revenge.
Years later, Letterman would give an even more baffling interview with a surly and rambling Joaquin Phoenix. Letterman ended the chat by quipping, “We owe an apology to Farrah Fawcett.”
21. Love the Skin That She’s in
Fawcett’s first fully nude performance was in the film Dr. T & the Women, where she starred as the unstable wife of Richard Gere’s character. Use this information responsibly.
22. A Face Worth Fighting for
Three men fist-fighting for the heart of Farrah Fawcett? In 1969, a then-ingenue Farrah Fawcett was a bachelorette on the popular TV show The Dating Game. After she made her choice, a physical brawl broke out between her suitors. Fortunately, it turned out to be an April Fool’s joke. But it’s not that hard to believe, right?
23. You Can Keep the Hyphen
Farrah Fawcett was married to Lee Majors from 1973 to 1982. The marriage resulted in no children, but she did use the stage name “Farrah Fawcett-Majors” even after their 1979 separation and right up until the divorce.
24. The Family That Broadcasts Together Stays Together
In early 2005, Farrah Fawcett starred in her own TV Land reality series, Chasing Farrah. The show only lasted seven episodes, but it followed the actress through day-to-day moments of her life. The show was able to record one of Farrah’s final visits to her family in Texas before her mother died on March 24, 2005.
25. Catch the Train to the Top of the Charts
Farrah Fawcett was the inspiration for Gladys Knight & the Pips’ hit song “Midnight Train to Georgia.” The songwriter, Jim Weatherly, was a friend of her then-husband, Lee Majors. He had called the Majors’ home one night when Fawcett answered the phone and informed Weatherby that she was going to visit her mom via “the midnight plane to Houston.”
Houston is nowhere near Georgia, but the lyric was catchy enough, I guess.
26. Star of the Kitchen
Fawcett put family first. In her original contract for Charlie’s Angels, the actress stipulated that she would never work later than 7 pm. This was for a particularly heartwarming reason: she wanted to be home in time to make dinner for her husband, Lee Majors. As she told interviewers, “I love Lee, and I love cooking.”
27. One of the Gals
The media loves a catfight, but Fawcett refused to stoop for attention. In the wake of Fawcett’s legal troubles with Charlie’s Angels, reporters pressured her to badmouth her fellow angels, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith. Fawcett never took the bait.
28. Flipped off
Farrah Fawcett’s feathery hair went by many names. Although it was most notably referred to as the “Fawcett Flip,” others coined the terms the ‘Farrah-do” or “Farrah-flip.”
29. The School of Life
While attending the University of Texas, Fawcett’s passions lay within academia. She was a science nerd who planned to study microbiology. Later, she found that her passion lay in the arts—not performing, but sculpting. Either way, Hollywood kept calling.
30. Happy Birthday…
In 2006, Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer. She endured four months of chemotherapy and surgery. By her 60th birthday in 2007, it was reported she was cancer-free at last.
31. Or Not.
Unfortunately, Fawcett’s cancer-free diagnosis of 2007 didn’t last too long. Just three months later, her cancer came back to a stage IV level. The disease had spread to her liver, a condition that had a five-year survival rate of less than 5%.
32. There’s Got to Be Another Way
In 2007, Fawcett’s doctors advised that she undergo a colostomy operation. She resisted and instead traveled to Germany for “aggressive” as well as “alternative” treatment.
33. Not the Whole Farrah’s Story
In 2009, Fawcett received a final and posthumous Emmy Award nomination for her two-hour documentary, Farrah’s Story. The program documented her struggles with cancer. However, its editing was openly critiqued by her family. They felt it did not accord with the actress’s final wishes to explore alternative methods of cancer treatment, as she herself had done.
34. For Love or Money?
Farrah Fawcett infamously quit the main cast of Charlie’s Angels after just one season. To this day, no one knows 100% why, though there are some common guesses: Many people cite the strain success put on her marriage. Fawcett’s then-husband, Lee Majors, was also starring in the ABC television series, Six Million Dollar Man.
The competing work schedules put a wet blanket on their personal life. Of course, Fawcett had her own reasons…
35. See Ya, Wouldn’t Want to Be Ya
Fawcett never formally signed a series contract with Charlie’s Angels producer Aaron Spelling. Contentions eventually rose in relation to royalties about her image. Can you blame her? It was a very profitable image.
36. My Sister, My Substitute
Despite her early exit from Charlie’s Angels, Fawcett was contractually obligated to keep showing up in a guest capacity. ABC contracted Fawcett to perform six guest spots between 1978 and 1980. On a more regular basis, Fawcett was replaced by actress Cheryl Ladd, who would play Kris Munroe, the kid sister to Fawcett’s Jill.
37. Now’s Not the Best Time
Life imitates art: during one of Fawcett’s 1983 performances in Extremities—a Broadway play about women turning the tables on a male home invader—one of Fawcett’s male stalkers interrupted the show to ask whether she had received his correspondence. Nothing came of it thanks to Fawcett’s firm resolve, but read the room, guy.
38. Goldilocks’s Finds Someone in Her Bed
For almost two decades, Fawcett enjoyed a relationship with fellow actor Ryan O’Neal. Their long-term commitment ended abruptly—for at least a while—after she caught O’Neal in bed with another woman in 1997.
39. Her Knight in Not-So-Shining Armor
According to Tatum O’Neal, Fawcett was the victim of physical abuse by Tatum’s father, Ryan O’Neal. As early as 1994, Fawcett disclosed in an interview that while “Sometimes Ryan breaks my heart…he’s also responsible for giving me confidence in myself.”
40. A Rough Rebound
Shortly after leaving Ryan O’Neal, Fawcett began dating filmmaker James Orr. Unfortunately, the relationship proved to be just as tragic as her one with O’Neal; Orr was charged and later convicted for assaulting Fawcett in 1998.
41. Was Three a Crowd?
After a four-year separation, Fawcett reunited with her infamous long-term partner Ryan O’Neal in 2001. At the same time, Fawcett had also rekindled her old romance with a Longhorn football player, Greg Lott. According to Lott, Fawcett’s reconnection with O’Neal was only for her public image; she continued to see Lott until her death in 2009.
For the record, Fawcett’s will would leave nothing to O’Neal. It did leave $100,000 for Lott.
42. Your Princess Is in Another Castle
According to Fawcett’s other partner Greg Lott, Ryan O’Neal kept Fawcett and him apart in the final days of her life. To quote Lott, “He kept me from seeing the love of my life before she died.”
43. A Major Mistake
There was an awkward overlap between Fawcett’s two most famous romances. She met Ryan O’Neal while still married to Lee Majors. In fact, Majors himself invited O’Neal to keep his wife company as the older actor completed a film in Canada. From there, O’Neal and Fawcett became an item, and the Six Million Dollar Man became a single man.
44. A Star Is Overshadowed
No one likes to be upstaged, especially at that point of their lives. Farrah Fawcett passed away from cancer, aged 62, on June 25, 2009. However, pop star Michael Jackson also passed away just five hours after Fawcett. In the battle of news cycle coverage, it was Jackson who won. Tragically, today few people remember it as the day Farrah Fawcett died.
45. Maybe It Got Lost in the Mail…
The bulk of Fawcett’s estate (about $4.5 million) was left to her only son, Redmond Fawcett-O’Neal. Other sums were left to her father, her nephew, and also her old boyfriend George Lott. Long-term partner Ryan O’Neal was glaringly absent from the list of beneficiaries, and given what we know about their relationship, it’s not hard to imagine why.