'Charlie's Angel' Farrah Fawcett dies at 62
A winsome smile, tousled hair and unfettered sensuality were Farrah Fawcett's trademarks as a sex symbol and 1970s TV star in "Charlie's Angels." But as her life drew to a close, she captivated the public in a far different way: as a cancer patient who fought for, then surrendered, her treasured privacy to document her struggle with the disease and inspire others.
Fawcett, 62, died Thursday morning at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, nearly three years after being diagnosed with anal cancer. Ryan O'Neal, the longtime companion who returned to her side when she became ill, was with her.
"After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved Farrah has passed away," O'Neal said. "Although this is an extremely difficult time for her family and friends, we take comfort in the beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and the knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world."
In the end, Fawcett sought to offer more than that, re-emerging in the spotlight with a new gravitas.
Her struggle is the dominant narrative of the film rather than a reckoning, an understanding that all things, including her life, must pass.
In one sense, she is trying redefine her illness. Credited as an executive producer of the program, Fawcett hopes to subvert the tabloid coverage that has invaded her life since her illness took hold. When she suffered a relapse in 2007, staffers at the UCLA Medical Center leaked the news to the National Enquirer even before Fawcett could tell her family. By opening her private struggle to the public, she deprives the tabloids of exclusive coverage.
Fawcett believes that her forms of cancer, and by association all forms, should be curable. Given the necessary funds and a bureaucratic openness to alternative treatments, cancer will surely be cured. That belief helps support her denial of death.
She travels to Germany to receive care under a doctor named Professor Vogel, who compares her cancer to a terrorist “filled with hate and powerful enough to destroy all that’s good and healthy.” Despite the vivid depictions of painful treatment (long needles and invasive lasers, nausea and, of course, hair loss), both Fawcett and her caregivers seem to think in metaphor. To Fawcett, for example, the tabloids are a type of cancer as well.
Several networks have announced plans today to pay tribute to the late Farrah Fawcett, who died today after a prolonged battle with cancer:
* Dateline NBC will air "Farrah Fawcett: The Life and Death of an Angel" tonight from 10-11 p.m. ET, followed by a special rebroadcast of Farrah's Story from 9-11 p.m. tomorrow. The two-hour documentary about Fawcett's fight with cancer -- which was shot with Fawcett's own video camera -- attracted nearly 9 million viewers when it first aired on NBC on May 15. The special will air again on Oxygen at 3:30 p.m. on June 27.
* Tonight, ABC's 20/20 will air Barbara Walters' special report on Fawcett. The hour-long show will feature interviews with her longtime companion, Ryan O’Neal, fellow Charlie’s Angels star Jaclyn Smith, her close friend Alana Stewart, and Dr. Lawrence Piro, who had been treating Fawcett for cancer. The special, which airs on ABC at 10 p.m. ET, will also feature clips from Walters’ past interviews with the actress and pop culture icon.
* TV Land will pay tribute to the actress this Saturday by airing the first two episodes of the 2005 TV Land original series, Chasing Farrah, from 9-10 p.m. ET.
* The BIO Channel will air "BIO Remembers: Farrah Fawcett" at 10 p.m. ET, June 29.
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