Farrah Fawcett would have turned 76 this Thursday, nearly 14 years after her tragic death following a protracted cancer battle.
She rocketed to international fame in 1976 when she starred on one season of Charlie’s Angels alongside Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson.
The same year, she posed in a clinging red swimsuit for a legendary poster that made its way onto bedroom walls all over America.
With her luxurious blonde mane and megawatt smile, Farrah became one of the reigning glamour icons of the 1970s.
Over the decades however she was buffeted by personal troubles, including a turbulent on-off romance with Ryan O’Neal.
Legend: Farrah Fawcett would have turned 76 this Thursday, nearly 14 years after her tragic death following a protracted cancer battle; pictured in 1976 on Charlie’s Angels
Americana: In 1976 she posed in a clinging red swimsuit for a legendary poster; pictured in 2011 at a memorabilia donation at the Smithsonian
Farrah’s acting career began on 1970s television alongside her husband Lee Majors, a TV staple who was eight years her senior.
She jobbed around in such films as the Gore Vidal adaptation Myra Breckenridge and the sci-fi camp classic Logan’s Run.
In 1976, the combined impact of her Charlie’s Angels gig and her sexpot swimsuit poster catapulted her to global prominence.
By the late 1970s her star had fully eclipsed her husband’s and she had caught the eye of Love Story heartthrob Ryan O’Neal.
Lee and Farrah’s marriage was already crumbling at the time, and Ryan recalled her complaining to her husband: ‘Lee, remember when we were first married, and we were in Nevada, and you’d leave me in some dinky cabin and go to a bar? You’d tell me to get undressed and get in bed and wait for you, but you never came back.’
In 1979 her marriage to Lee went up in flames and Farrah took up with Ryan, beginning a tempestuous relationship that unfolded under a cloud of his infidelities.
Their son Redmond, born in 1985, grew up to suffer serious addictions and mental health problems to the point that Ryan told Vanity Fair in 2009: ‘He’s been in 13 rehabs. He’s had a terrible life.’
Meanwhile Ryan’s daughter Tatum O’Neal has claimed he used to ‘beat’ Farrah. ‘He had a terrible temper and was very violent,’ Tatum insisted in Talk magazine.
Looking fab: By the end of the 1970s, she had become an international star by way of Charlie’s Angels, even though she was only on the show for its first season
Bombshell: With her luxurious blonde mane and tantalizing physique, Farrah became one of the reigning glamour icons of the 1970s
What a trio: She is pictured in a publicity shot for the first season of Charlie’s Angels with her co-stars Jaclyn Smith (right) and Kate Jackson (left)
Legs for days: She appeared on multiple covers of Playboy magazine, including in 1978, two years after she achieved superstardom on television
Sizzling sensation: One of the times she returned to Playboy was for the Christmas 1995 issue
Farrah herself told TV Guide in the 1990s: ‘Sometimes Ryan breaks my heart. But he’s also responsible for giving me confidence in myself.’
During their romance, her career proceeded apace and she garnered Emmy nods for the TV movies The Burning Bed and Small Sacrifices.
She took her acting talents to the stage as well, earning warm notices for her role in the off-Broadway show Extremities in 1983.
In 1997 she drew further praise for her role in The Apostle as the unfaithful wife of a preacher played by Robert DuVall.
The situation was reversed in Farrah’s own personal life – that year, she finally left Ryan after walking in on him in bed with another woman.
Rumors of her substance issues also rose to the surface in 1997 when she went on David Letterman’s show sounding loopy and out of sorts.
She assiduously denied having a drug problem and Ryan later declared: ‘She didn’t need substances. I couldn’t even get her to smoke a joint. I was the pothead; she’s one of those people who flossed every night and took care of herself. When I saw her on Letterman I thought she was acting.’
Farrah had gone on Letterman to promote her latest Playboy cover, and Ryan explained that ‘she thought she was being Playmate-ish.’
Throwback: Over the decades however she was buffeted by personal troubles, including a turbulent on-off romance with Ryan O’Neal, with whom she is pictured in France in 1984
Remember when: Farrah’s acting career began on 1970s television alongside her husband Lee Majors, a TV staple who was eight years her senior; they are pictured in 1969
Loved up: Farrah and Ryan, pictured in 1989, had a tempestuous relationship that ended for a few years after she walked in on him with another woman in 1997
Later years: She reunited with Ryan in 2001 and he remained with her until her death in 2009 after two brutal bouts of cancer; the pair are pictured in 2004
Complicated: Farrah told TV Guide in the 1990s: ‘Sometimes Ryan breaks my heart,’ while adding that ‘he’s also responsible for giving me confidence in myself’
She reunited with Ryan in 2001 and kept acting into the 2000s – but her career was cut short by two brutal bouts of anal cancer.
Farrah was diagnosed with the illness in 2006 and had beaten it into remission by 2007, only for it to recur later that year and metastasize.
Refusing a colostomy, she jetted to Germany to procure what a friend of hers told People were ‘alternative treatments not allowed in the U.S.’
Farrah and her gal pal Alana Stewart filmed her grueling final struggle against the illness for a documentary that aired just a month before she died.
When Farrah succumbed to her illness in June 2009, her death was infamously overshadowed by that of Michael Jackson the same week.
Ryan, who remained with Farrah until her death, went to her funeral and flirted there with a woman he failed to recognize as his daughter Tatum.
Remember when: Farrah’s acting career was given a boost by Charlie’s Angels and she appeared in such films as The Cannonball Run, a 1981 movie starring Burt Reynolds
Acclaim: During their romance with Ryan, her career proceeded apace and she garnered Emmy nods for the TV movies The Burning Bed and Small Sacrifices
Opposite the best: In 1997 she drew further praise for her role in The Apostle as the unfaithful wife of a preacher played by Robert DuVall
This post first appeared on Daily mail