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
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Shenaz Treasurywala
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all