Thursday, June 25, 2009

On the Passing of My First Celebrity Crush

Farrah Fawcett Poster (Charlie's Angels)The Poster via Flickr

Like many other males of my generation, I had The Poster.

That's all you had to call it, too: The Poster. The one where she's wearing the red bathing suit - an iconic '70s image if ever there was one. Among my circle of friends at age 10 in 1977, all of us getting ready to become teenagers, none of us fully understanding what was about to happen with our hormones despite those woefully worn movies our teachers showed us in school about "becoming a man," the measure of whether or not you were leaving behind childish things and preparing to enter manhood was whether or not you had The Poster.

She really was stunningly beautiful; a "California" (by way of Corpus Christi, Texas) blonde with sparkling eyes, a gleaming smile, an athletic body and the hairstyle that would come to bear her name. (In fact, at the height of her popularity, she sold her own line of shampoo!)

She was the personification of what, at the time, was referred to as "jiggle TV," even though she only starred in only one TV show for only one season. She struggled to be recognized as an actress rather than a sex symbol; her jaw-droppingly intense turns as a battered wife and as a would-be rape victim who victimizes her attacker earned her critical acclaim and awards, but still when people spoke of her, it all went back to jiggle-TV and The Poster.

Her refusal to accept that typecasting saw her tackle many difficult roles in film and on stage, but she virtually disappeared from TV for many years; when she came back, it was in a rambling, semi-coherent appearance on "Late Night with David Letterman" that left many scratching their heads. Her life took her full-circle back to TV at the end, having recently shared the details of her battles with cancer in a documentary special on NBC.

Farrah Fawcett lost that two-year battle with cancer today. She was 62.

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