Today, my first poster girl, Farrah Fawcett died. In the 9am hour on a June Gloom day the smile and hair that set the tone for a generation and the body and face that created the gold standard of movie star posters died of the Big C, cancer.
And it makes me feel old.
I loved Farrah. As a young gay man, I had to have my hair exactly like hers. The vent brush and white can Aqua Net (if I have to explain, you weren't there) flew with such fervor in my bathroom that on any given morning or night oxygen was in short supply and ozone destroying vapors filled the room. I would run in to my bedroom where on the closet door was adorned the poster, Farrah, looking at the camera, a smile, a bathing suit, yes, a nipple underneath. Hair incredibly blowing in a breeze, or looking like it constantly.
That poster went on to sell somewhere between eight and 12 million copies and the little company Pro Arts Inc., who in 1976 approached Fawcett with the idea has been glad ever since. In fact, according to industry figures, her salary for Charlie's Angels was less than her revenues from the poster.
And who could forget Jill Munroe of "Charlie's Angels?" It had me shouting "Cover me Kelly, I'm going in.,.." for years. It was September of 1976 when we first saw Jill Munroe and Farrah. The show was a hit and yet, she left after only a year.
She went to the big screen, and no one really liked her early movies except those of us teenagers that adored her. So what that "Saturn 3" or "Sunburn" didn't sizzle at the box office, there were more posters, more fashions, more Fawcett. And we all still talk about turning 30 and being eliminated, so "Logan's Run" must have done something to our psyche.
Then Farrah got all serious on us and started taking dramatic, often traumatic roles on TV and on stage. "Extremities" brought her critical and commercial acclaim, and a Golden Globe for Best Actress. The cover girl and TV star was "all growed up..." As the obsessed Robert Duvall's wife in "The Apostle" she again delivered in spades, and won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female, all the while playing against type, not the glamorous model or gutsy police woman, but abused women, victimized women, women who then overcome. And abusers were put on short notice with the Emmy Award winning performance in "The Burning Bed" a TV movie that also brought Fawcett a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.
More success and awards would follow with Nazi Hunter: The Bate Klarsfeid Story, Poor Little RIch Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story and Small Sacrifices which got Fawcett another Golden Globe and Emmy. She stayed in front of the camera through and through, in 2002-2003 getting an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress for "The Guardian" and even executive producing Farrah's Story in 2009 chronicling her battle with anal cancer, a disease with which she was diagnosed in 2006.
Of course, like all of us, she went a little wacko at times. After posing nude for Playboy in 1995 (the best selling issue of the 1990's, even I bought one and I'm gay!) and then at 50 years of age doing it again (another best seller) she proved she was still the glamour girl that goes gritty for movie and TV. She began doing paintings where she rolled in the paint nude and stretched herself about on canvas. She was not an inhibited woman.
But what she was, outside of being in love with Ryan O'Neal throughout her life (yes, she married the Six Million Dollar Man, but that was not a TV marriage made in heaven and when they divorced no one was shocked), was a refreshing TV and film star. Outlandish enough to stay in the talboids but not found in some drunken boozy mess all the time. She was a star, and carried with it the demeanor and style a Hollywood star should posses for life in the limelight.
She courageously grew older, and pushed boundaries as to what is beauty, what is acceptable, what is it like to be an aging woman in Hollywood. When cancer came knocking, she fought hard and long, and had the courage to let her fans and family in, to see the real humanity of it all, and to put a face on something like anal cancer, hers.
You may not have thought a lot about Farrah Fawcett but I, as a fan of Pop Culture, will for one miss her. She was always there, working, doing things in Hollywood, out of Hollywood. As for her family, she's the second Fawcett daughter to die to cancer, her eldest sister Diane Fawcett Walls died from lung cancer at 63, and I know they'll think of both of them daily.
So, goodbye Farrah. Today, I take a vent brush out of my bottom drawer and lay it on the counter in your memory. It's been a long time since I've had enough hair to actually feather, but know, in my heart, I'm wearing golden locks blowing in the breeze for you. I'll show your movies to friends who may not have seen them over then next month or two thanks to our digital Netflix age, and talk about the issues your life and death raised. I, like many, will keep you immortal. To Ryan and the family, take care of yourselves. Caregivers often ignore their own health, she'd want you to be well.
It's cliche, and everyone will write it, but she started as Charlie's angel, now, for those that believe in such, she's truly one indeed.
Follow Charles Karel Bouley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/therealkarel