From the first time she graced television screens in modest guest appearances in the late 1960s to decades later when her life came to a premature end due to cancer, Farah Fawcett was an unforgettable icon. Her honors include being named one of TV Guide’s 50 greatest television stars of all-time, while she also was immortalized in the best-selling poster in history. Here are some facts you probably didn’t know about Farrah!
An Iconic Name
Some fans may not know that Farrah was not the original spelling of her name. Her name was originally spelled “Ferrah.” Now, the actual origins of her name have often been debated for some time, and neither Farrah nor her mother, Pauline, ever officially set the record straight. Farrah has joked that the name was made up by her mom because it sounded good with “Fawcett,” while other rumors said that it was chosen because it’s close to the Arabic word for joy. Who knows?
High School Beauty
Long before she became a superstar, Farrah Fawcett was just another kid in Corpus Christi, Texas. Farrah was a well-behaved little girl who first went to a Catholic school before attending W.B. Ray High School. She started to gain notoriety with her looks as she blossomed in her teen years, being voted as the most beautiful girl in her class. This photo shows her as a member of the high school’s cheerleading squad.
Farrah Fawcett clearly had a bright future ahead of her as she went on to college at the University of Texas. She was a real science nerd and originally planned to major in microbiology. Can you imagine if Farrah had become a scientist instead of an actress? She ended up changing her major to art so that she could focus on sculpting. She also continued to get noticed for her looks, being selected as one of the ten most beautiful girls on campus.
Farrah Changes Gears
When she was named one of the most beautiful girls in school, her photos were passed around to Hollywood agents. One of them, David Mirisch, would hound Farrah for two years about coming to Hollywood. Finally, Farrah decided to take the leap after getting her parents’ blessing. While it may not always be the best choice to drop out of college, it certainly worked out okay for Farrah!
Low Maintenance Beauty
Most women who step out looking amazing have a reputation for spending hours getting ready while staring in the mirror. Not Farrah! When she was photographed by Bruce McBroom in the mid-70s, he was stunned that she did her own makeup and hair without assistance and without looking in the mirror! One of her many beauty secrets was the use of lemon juice to enhance the blonde highlights of her long locks.
Many women have become famous for their swimsuit photos over the years, but only Farrah Fawcett has had the honor of having her swimsuit displayed in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History! The swimsuit was the one that Farrah wore in the famous poster that was on walls all over America in the 1970s. It was donated to the museum in 2011 and is still on display there.
All About Fitness
Farrah Fawcett was not a lazy person, as she enjoyed activities such as tennis, which allowed her to stay fit. She was married to TV actor Lee Majors at one point, and the two would regularly play doubles tennis with other couples. This is how she got to know producer Aaron Spelling, who ended up casting Farrah in the hit TV show Charlie’s Angels, which helped propel her to super-stardom.
Baring It All
Farah Fawcett made it through the first decades of her career without crossing the line and engaging in nudity in her film roles or photo shoots. However, she received an offer from Playboy in the 1990s and decided to accept. Reception to her appearance in the famous men’s magazine was split, as some of her longtime fans certainly thought that she shouldn’t have done it.
For most actresses, a show like Charlie’s Angels would be a dream job. Farrah Fawcett had bigger plans, though, as she wanted to transition to the silver screen and get out of television. She said she wanted to quit the show after its first season, but the production company took her to court. As part of the eventual settlement, Farrah made six appearances on the show over the next two years.
Bad Career Decision?
Farrah’s decision to leave such a popular show after just one season was very divisive within Hollywood. It’s a decision that still gets debated today. Charlie’s Angels Co-Producer Leonard Goldberg understandably wasn’t a fan of her choice to leave. “We made her a star, and she walks out after one year,” he lamented. Goldberg claimed that she definitely missed out on roles because she was seen as unreliable.
There was speculation that Farrah Fawcett had dabbled in substance abuse over the years. In one particularly memorable interview with David Letterman, the comedian called her out about her rather skitterish, squirrely behavior. Farrah simply said that she was nervous and left it at that. Afterward, longtime boyfriend, Ryan O’Neal said that her erratic behavior was just her trying to act like a Playboy model should.
The Price of Fame
As Farrah Fawcett became a bonafide superstar, it became necessary for her to have a bodyguard to help deal with the paparazzi and overzealous fans. However, Ryan O’Neal was not used to this type of attention when they began dating and suggested that he could protect her instead. Not long after, O’Neal saw how crazy fans and photographers could be and decided that a bodyguard would be a good choice, after all.
The Look of a Generation
From the mid-1970s until big, hairstyled hair came in style in the mid-1980s, there was a period of about ten years where every girl tried to copy Farrah Fawcett’s iconic hairstyle. The feathered, full look was often referred to as the “Farrah Flip.” Many even tried to bleach their hair to match her golden hair color, too! To this day, the hairstyle is inseparable from Farrah’s legacy as a performer.
What a Catch!
It’s hard to believe, but before she became a star, Farrah actually appeared on the show The Dating Game. On the show, three single men would compete for the affections of one lovely lady by taking turns answering her questions in the best way possible. Best of all, there was a twist – none of them could see the woman, or vice versa, until the end of the show! You can bet that the winner wasn’t disappointed when he saw Farrah!
A Generation of Little Farrahs
Farrah wasn’t just an unusual name before Farrah Fawcett was born; it was completely unheard of! However, when she became famous, the name somehow became one of the most popular baby names in the U.S. for a few years! That’s definitely one of the true signs of being a superstar. When people you’ve never met are naming their daughters after you, you know that you’ve made it.
Messenger from the Afterlife
One particularly interesting story about Farrah Fawcett actually occurred after her death. Actress Tori Spelling, who was trying to contact her late father (Aaron Spelling, producer of Charlie’s Angels and other shows) through a psychic, actually heard from Farrah’s spirit instead! Tori claims that Farrah gave her specific messages to pass to her family and loved ones.
Farrah’s Face is Everywhere
Farrah Fawcett understood right away that being a big star isn’t just about landing juicy acting roles. She also did interviews and photo shoots whenever she could to keep her star on the rise. She also did commercials, including spots that aired during the Super Bowl! Magazines such as Bazaar, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and Vogue featured Farrah over the years.
Farrah Becomes a Barbie
Barbie dolls are often cited as one of the main ways that society defines what beauty should look like, for better or worse. Therefore, it was a huge honor when a limited edition Barbie was made with Farrah’s likeness. The doll recreates Farrah’s famous poster and includes all the details, from the iconic red swimsuit to Farrah’s unforgettable hairstyle!
Farrah Sits Out
Many hit television shows from the 70s and 80s have become films in the last couple of decades, with varying results. Many wondered if Farrah would get a cameo in the 2003 film version of the show, and it’s true that she almost did make an appearance! However, Farrah played hardball and said that she would only appear if she also got to be the voice of Charlie. The producers weren’t having it.
Instantly In Love
Although their relationship had its ups and downs, Ryan O’Neal has always maintained that he fell in love with Farrah Fawcett the first time he looked into her eyes. They met at a party hosted by a mutual friend, and Ryan said that he instantly knew that he wanted to be with her. It must have been Farrah’s iconic smile that did the work on that particular day!
Although Ryan O’Neal and Farrah Fawcett always had strong feelings for each other, they also had an uphill battle from the beginning of their relationship. Ryan’s career wasn’t doing well in the 1980s, and he had troubles with substance abuse. In addition, Ryan had already been married twice and had three children from previous relationships, adding another layer of complication to their relationship.
If Farrah Fawcett had a reputation for being a bit of a diva, Ryan O’Neal had a reputation for being a full-on brat. O’Neal was known for throwing temper tantrums when he didn’t get his way or felt disrespected, which often strained their relationship. He often felt like he wasn’t getting the attention that he deserved from Farrah, especially as her career kept humming along steadily.
A Truly Loyal Friend
Although her producers on Charlie’s Angels may have had issues with how she left the show, her costars seemed to get along very well with Farrah. In fact, years later Farrah appeared on Howard Stern’s infamous radio show, and he tried extremely hard to dig up some dirt on the show or get her to gossip about her former costars. Farrah refused and maintained that she had nothing but love and respect for them.
The Poster Every Boy Had
If you were going to make a time capsule about the 1970s or even the entire 20th century of pop culture, the famous Farrah Fawcett poster would have to be in it. The photo was taken in 1976, and the resulting poster would go on to become the best-selling poster ever. It was a highly spontaneous photo, as the photographer used a blanket that he had laying on his truck seats as a backdrop for the shot!
At the height of Farrah Fawcett’s stardom in 1980, famous artist Andy Warhol actually did a couple of portraits of her. For many years, the portraits resided in The Andy Warhol Museum. However, she left the artwork to the University of Texas in her will. After her death, boyfriend Ryan O’Neal successfully sued to get one of the portraits, which is worth potentially up to $12 million.
It may be hard to believe that any man would think of cheating on Farrah Fawcett, but that’s just what Ryan O’Neal did from time to time during their long relationship. The two split briefly in the late 1990s due to O’Neal’s infidelity, as Farrah supposedly caught him in the act of cheating at one point. During O’Neal’s lawsuit against the University of Texas for the Andy Warhol portraits, he confessed under oath to an affair with actress Leslie Ann Stefanson.
Cheating is often a two-way street, and rumors persist that Ryan O’Neal wasn’t the only one who was unfaithful in the relationship between him and Farrah Fawcett. Court documents stated that Farrah saw her old college boyfriend off and on from 1998 until her death. Just like the details of O’Neal’s affair with Leslie Ann Stefanson, this indiscretion was uncovered during the O’Neal court case with the University of Texas.
Many actors and actresses find it very difficult to have a good marriage when they’re regularly in different parts of the world filming movies and TV shows. Farrah and husband Lee Majors were no exception. She was in Charlie’s Angels while he was starring in The Six Million Dollar Man. The two found themselves growing apart and eventually would split up for good.
End of a Long Relationship
Farrah Fawcett and Lee Majors had been together for a long time, since before Farrah was even a big star. They were dating in the late 1960s and decided to get married in 1973. They were married nearly ten years before they finally decided to call it quits. In interviews since their split, Lee has hinted that the media spotlight that was constantly on them also contributed to their marital issues.
Ran Out of Time
Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal were together off and on for three decades and had a son together, but never got married. In the final hours as Farrah’s health took a turn for the worse due to cancer, Ryan decided to propose to Farrah and said she accepted. However, O’Neal says that before the priest could arrive to do their marriage vows, Farrah had passed away.