Farrah Fawcett's red swimsuit now a museum piece

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The Independent Culture

The red swimsuit that Charlie's Angels star Farrah Fawcett wore in her iconic 1976 poster has joined president Abraham Lincoln's tophat and Superman's cape at a Smithsonian Institution museum in Washington.

The one-piece suit, along with an original copy of the poster of Fawcett beaming at the camera, were among half a dozen "Farrah" objects donated Wednesday to the National Museum of American History by Fawcett's long-time partner, actor Ryan O'Neal, and her nephew Greg Walls.

"She was one of a kind," an emotional O'Neal at the signing ceremony, held on what would have been Fawcett's 64th birthday.

The actress with the legendary blonde locks and broad smile died two years ago after a long battle with cancer.

"She had an energy and an aura that I had never seen before and have not seen since. She was magnificent," O'Neal told a small group of Fawcett's friends and relatives who had traveled to Washington for the ceremony, including O'Neal's actress daughter Tatum and his son with Fawcett, Redmond.

The poster of Fawcett - whose fresh-faced innocence helped counter her undeniably provocative pose in the photo - was shot by photographer Bruce McBroom months before Charlie's Angels made its TV debut in September 1976.

The show rocketed Fawcett and her co-stars Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson to fame, and six months later, the poster of Fawcett had sold five million copies. Today, 12 million copies of the poster have been sold.

"I don't think Farrah realized the impact that poster would have on the world," O'Neal said.

Fawcett's former tennis coach Nels Van Patten was with there when McBroom took the now famous red swimsuit shot.

He told the group at the museum how Fawcett had done her own make-up and hair for the shoot - and was more concerned with "playing tennis and being healthy" than with producing a poster.

"She said to the photographer, 'Are we done yet?' And he said, 'Just one more.'

"And Farrah just did like this," Van Patten said as he raised his left hand to touch his hair, "and put her head back like this and, big smile, and... it was an incredible shot.

"Everybody loved Farrah and because of this day at the Smithsonian, Farrah will never be forgotten," he said.

A Farrah Fawcett doll and jigsaw puzzle, an original "Farrah's Glamour Center" toy, a Time Magazine cover featuring all three Charlie's Angels, a copy of TV Guide's "Farrah Phenomenon" issue, and a leather-bound book of her scripts for the show that made her a star were also donated to the museum.

"These objects now belong to the American people," said Dwight Bowers, curator of American entertainment history at the museum.

"There's no time capsule of the 1970s that would be complete without Farrah," he said.