Sunday, June 28, 2009
The death of Charlie's Angel: Remembering Farrah Fawcett
The death of Michael Jackson and the cause of his death played out for most part of the past two days, on television and in newspapers. Only a day earlier to Jackson’s death, came the end of another sensational career, if not quite as Jackson’s – that of Farrah Fawcett-Majors as she was known in her prime in the late 1970s or thereabouts till her spilt with Lee Majors. She was only 62.
When I was an adolescent and during my growing up years, Charlie’s Angels was a rage and I used to try and tune into the television channel in Dhaka to catch the serial, as I would with Dallas later. Whether Doordarshan showed episodes of Charlies Angels I’m not quite sure, but probably it did.
Farrah Fawcett, obviously, was a great hit with men – you don’t really have to ask why. With her figure, face and golden locks, which man wouldn’t fall for her? She was, as somebody said, the perfect angel for Charlie’s Angels. According to a New York Times report, a poster of her in a red bathing suit, leonine mane flying, sold more than twice as many copies as posters of Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable combined. In Charlie’s Angels, she played one of three women detectives with great verve and vitality. The Times report also mentions the popularity of the series coinciding with the burgeoning women’s movement and bringing new attention to issues of female sexuality and the influence of television.
Farrah Fawcett was no major actor by any stretch of imagination. It was her personality more than anything else, her looks and sensuality, that played a part in her career getting the boost it did. She was most remembered for her role in Charlie’s Angels, the rest, television and film appearances, was forgettable.
Terminal cancer consumed her and she obviously knew she was dying. Chemotherapy had destroyed her once golden locks even if age didn’t. After Lee Majors, she had an on-off relationship going with Ryan O’Neal; he was there for her almost till the end, and that must have been some comfort. Farrah suffered during the end; her treatment was recorded and televised to the world.
At the height of her career in the 1970s, would she ever have even thought of such an end? That’s life. They call it the greatest leveler. But surely Farrah deserved better.
(Pictures are courtesy The New York Times. The first is the famous Farrah Fawcett poster; the second shows her (extreme right) as one of Charlie's Angels, as I grew to know her on television as a kid.)