Saturday, March 3, 2018

Women's History Month: Farrah Fawcett

Farrah was more than a pretty face and iconic pin-up poster.

Farrah was scouted by Hollywood agents while a college art student in Texas. Like thousands of girls, she was beautiful, could model, and the camera loved her. What was different about Farrah, aside from her extra-brilliant smile and actual acting ability, was her astonishing courage.

"Charlie's Angels" made Farrah famous. During the Seventies lightweight television show, she was actually nominated for an Emmy and Golden Globe for the only season she starred with Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson, with whom she remained friends for decades.

Farrah's popularity right then would have been enough for most women (along with the 20,000,000 copies sold of her red bathing suit poster.)

 Farrah's swimsuit makes the Smithsonian

Farrah in "The Burning Bed."

But she left "Charlie's Angels"  for movies, and then in 1984 made a very different choice, a television movie called "The Burning Bed." This was the actual story of an abusive couple in Michigan that ended with the wife setting fire to her husband's bed while he was in a drunken stupor. He died. She was not convicted of murder due to the newly diagnosed battered woman syndrome.

Hollywood took up the charge in defending vulnerable women in     Johnny Belinda (1948 film) 

with Jane Wyatt (Oscar winner for it), but Farrah's performance was viewed by millions in their own homes not too many years after the actual situation had been national news. She was nominated for an Emmy and Golden Globe.

Farrah Fawcett by Andy Warhol

The dramatization is noted as influential in changing the law, 

Violence Against Women Act 

and inspiring a country song by Martina McBride, 

Independence Day

She had left the glamour girl roles permanently. She earned respect (and Golden Globe and Emmy nominations) through many diverse roles from Nazi-hunters to rape victims to child murderers. 

Farrah Fawcett Awards

But the most challenging role was yet to be filmed. 

Farrah was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, and in 2009 the TV documentary "Farrah's Story," chronicling her battle with the disease aired on NBC.  She posthumously earned her fourth Emmy nomination as producer Farrah's Story (2009) 

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