This week, a little piece of my childhood slipped away with the passing of actress Farrah Fawcett. The All-American beauty lost her very public battle with cancer at the age of sixty-two. Ironically, the age that marked the end of her life is for most of us, the beginning of our “golden years.” However, Fawcett’s golden age happened much earlier.
The definitive sex symbol of the 1970s, Fawcett was a dream girl for millions—men wanted to love her; women wanted to be her. Very few stars of today exude such warmth and approachability. And fewer personalities still enjoy the longevity and loyal fan following that Fawcett experienced over four decades. Case in point: A poster of her clad in a red bathing suit, lioness locks flowing, remains the all-time bestseller—more than thirty years later.
Pundits of Charlie’s Angels like to throw “jiggly” barbs at the series. They criticize its “flimsy” storylines and scantily clad heroines as perpetuating the exploitation of females. I never saw it that way. Not then, not now.
In the late seventies having a successful primetime show with three female leads was groundbreaking. Every week, millions watched while Jill Munroe, Sabrina Duncan and Kelly Garrett outplayed con artists, located lost children, and foiled assassination plots. They were always savvy, self-sufficient and successful in achieving their objective—whether they were wearing bikinis or burlap. The three epitomized the new “female” that began to emerge in America; an intoxicating mix of intelligence and sexy—“The Intellexy,” as I like to call it.
Charlie’s Angels didn’t pave the way for breast fests like Baywatch—it blazed the path for smarter, more female character-driven series like Kate and Allie, Cagney and Lacey, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and The Closer. And more importantly, it empowered tens of thousands of little girls like myself to become the women we are today—smart, independent and brave.
As a child, I remember escaping the wrath of my alcoholic father by disappearing into the wooded area behind our Danbury home. It was within that natural shelter that I would pretend to be the “fourth” angel. I would run around dodging the bad guys along with my famous gal pals. Although pretend, those three women unwittingly brought a great deal of solace and comfort to a little girl who, in their “presence”, didn’t feel so alone.
Thank you, Farrah—you truly were an angel. May you rest in peace.
This piece originally appeared in the News-Times on June 28, 2009