Friday, June 26, 2009

Remembering Farrah

Tuning CBS News on the radio at Noon yesterday: "Farrah Fawcett is dead."

I think The Poster hung in our (Richard's and my) bedroom. My memory of that is a bit hazy as I was usually too cheap for such things when I fell for Farrah at 16. My brother would have been the more likely of us to actually buy it, but all I clearly remember is his poster of Catherine Bach from The Dukes of Hazzard. (Cute in her own way, but no Farrah!)

Regardless, my, uh, appreciation for Miss Fawcett was sufficiently public that among my 17th birthday gifts from my school chums was the then-recent January 19, 1976, issue of People Weekly magazine, with Farrah and Lee Majors on the cover as "The $6 Million Couple: TV's bionic beefcake Lee Majors and wife Farrah Fawcett" -- that I just found in my Library. (This was well before Charlie's Angels.) Inside of which I find a "Tiger Beat Super Poster" of Farrah on one side -- that would have been on my wall, likely courtesy my sister -- and all three of the original "Charlie's Angels" on the other side. And a cut-out from some other magazine of those same "Angels" in red evening dresses.

(By the way, have you heard about the entertainer who was described as a combination of the non-Farrah "Charlie's Angels," Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson? Yup, her name is Kate Smith.)

Anyway, wrote People's Lois Armstrong:
Majors came into Fawcett's life as peremptorily as he now runs it. That was in 1968, during her second week in town. The good Catholic daughter (she still says her rosary every night) of a Corpus Christi oilfield contractor, Farrah Fawcett (that's really her name) had been voted one of the "Ten Most Beautiful Coeds" at the U. of Texas. A flack spotted her picture and invited her to Hollywood, and two years later she came, driven by her folks. Then someone else spied a Fawcett glossy—Majors' agent. That same day, Lee left a terse message at her all-girl rooming house: "Tell Farrah Fawcett that Lee Majors called and will pick her up at 7:30 for dinner."

"How dare he?" Farrah recalls reacting. "Who does he think he is?" Majors was, as it happened, a Kentucky boy, orphaned before he was 2. Football got Lee through Eastern Kentucky State College, but injuries (knee, shoulder and a nose busted five times) precluded a pro career. He came to L.A. to become a high school coach and fetched up with the recreation department, where he got turned on to acting by some touch football buddies.

So after two years of studying and scrambling and by the time Lee importuned Farrah, everyone knew damn well who he was—Barbara Stanwyck's bastard son Heath on the hit ABC series The Big Valley. But Majors phoned her back to apologize for his brashness, and she still remembers "melting into a thousand pieces" when he arrived and crooked his finger at her like a gun. "It was love at first sight, I guess." But awkward. "We got in the car," Farrah continues, "and there was complete silence for about 10 minutes. He didn't even ask me any stupid questions—like where did I come from. He said something once, but I couldn't hear it, so I just smiled." "What I'd said," Lee carries on, "was 'You're really beautiful'—and she missed it." Then, at a discotheque, she ordered Scotch and Coke, didn't drink it but disappeared, under the weather, for 30 minutes. "I didn't know if she was really sick or if she just didn't like me," he reports, but the next day Majors sent her 13 yellow roses, and they've been together the seven years since, the last two as Six Million Dollar Man and wife.
Part of her charm is that she seemed sweet and innocent, though I missed the hint (sigh! it was a more innocent age) that Lee and Farrah had shacked up for a few years before they married.

Alas, the marriage didn't last and Farrah spent the rest of her life unmarried to Ryan O'Neal in a, uh, stormy relationship. Still gorgeous and much more accomplished as an actress, her appeal as anything other than a pleasant memory of 16 was long gone. A memory I enjoyed last spring watching the first season of Charlie's Angels on DVD (a gift from my sister and her family). I also liked, as the TV last night showed a film of her about to enter an MRI (?), that she made the sign of the Holy Cross. Which is why her companionship with O'Neal still bothers me.

But I still like The Poster.

Tuning NPR News on the radio at 6 pm yesterday: "Michael Jackson is dead."

Not a good day for '70s teenager.

May God rest both their weary souls.

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