Farah Fawcett, the original Charlie's Angel, dies at 62

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Actress loses three-year battle with the cancer she dubbed her 'terrorist' at Los Angeles hospital

Friends and family announced yesterday that Farrah Fawcett, the shimmering actress who became one of greatest sex symbols of her generation, had died in a Los Angeles hospital, ending a three-year battle against the cancer she dubbed her "terrorist".

A statement from her longstanding companion, actor Ryan O'Neal, spoke of the bravery with which the 62-year-old star faced her final illness, taking to the airwaves in order to draw attention to her painful struggle, in a moving television documentary called Farrah's Story.

Fawcett recently announced her intention to finally marry O'Neal, who had been her on-off partner for more than two decades. However she never had time to make the final, defiant gesture against a disease that had left her feeling "like a blonde nothingness".

"After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved Farrah has passed away," said O'Neal, who was at her bedside when she died. "Although this is an extremely difficult time for family and friends, we take comfort in the beautiful times we shared over the years, and the knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world."

In her final, two-hour documentary, Fawcett charted every stage of her decline from the anal cancer, which was first diagnosed in 2006 and later spread to her liver. Despite often being shown in extreme pain, she always maintained a sense of humour, tearfully telling doctors "You wouldn't stop until you got my hair," as they shaved her scalp.

Fawcett's blonde locks had famously catapulted her to fame during the 1970s, when she was spotted by a Hollywood talent agent in a student magazine feature about the "10 most beautiful co-eds" at the University of Texas in Austin, where she was studying.

After moving to Los Angeles, she began modelling and in 1975 posed for the poster that would turn her into an international icon. It showed her in a one-piece red swimsuit, beaming pneumatically in a gesture that managed to capture the spirit of both the sexual revolution and the Californian lifestyle.

The poster sold more than eight million copies, and brought her to the attention of television producer Aaron Spelling, who cast her as one of the crime-fighting protagonists of Charlie's Angels. That role would, for better and worse, define her acting career.

Fawcett became a fixture on the show-business circuit, and helped sell T-shirts, lunch boxes, shampoo, wigs and even a novelty plumbing device called "Farrah's faucet." For a time, she also formed part of a famous Hollywood marriage with Lee Majors, the star of The Six Million Dollar Man, though the couple separated in 1979.

She was nominated for two Emmys and five Golden Globes, winning particular praise when she played an abused wife in The Burning Bed. However, Fawcett's celebrity wattage would – perhaps unfairly – often eclipse her standing as an actress.

In one typical public controversy, she caused an enormous stir by agreeing to pose for Playboy in 1995. Despite her sex-symbol status, she had famously always refused to appear naked in films or magazines.

Her personal life, and particularly her tumultuous relationship with O'Neal – which began in 1980 – was constantly followed by the tabloids. A rambling 1997 interview with David Letterman, at the time of one of their periodic break-ups, fuelled speculation that she might be having a breakdown.

Although Fawcett suffered tabloid intrusion at the start of her illness, when employees of a Los Angeles hospital leaked her medical records, she was later able to use her status as a pop culture icon to her advantage.

Farrah's Story, which was broadcast around the world in May, allowed her to make an impassioned plea for the US government to reform its dysfunctional healthcare system and modernise cancer screening.

Announcing her death, Fawcett's publicist, Allen Miller, left a tribute on the actress's official website. "I am sorry to say our Farrah has passed to a better place and left the pain and confines of her bed behind," it read. "She is free to be the woman we all knew and loved; so few have touched so many."

Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform