Sunday, May 17, 2009

FARRAH'S SWAN SONG?

I just read an article about Farrah Fawcett's recently aired TV documentary, Farrah's Story, which chronicled her apparently terminal battle with cancer. I had no idea how sick she was. It's particularly upsetting because she had been declared free of anal cancer a little more than two years ago, on February 2, 2007, her 60th birthday. It's the worst possible realization of that old cliché, it's not over till it's over.

I'll always remember Farrah as the hallmark of A-list '70s beauty and glamour. And of course, there was no escaping that poster (above), which seemed to be everywhere (except on my bedroom wall) in the late '70s. Farrah was already 30ish when it was released, which goes to show that stars were born a little later in life back then than they are today. Teen idols, particularly female ones, were rarer back in the day. Today, the star-making machinery seems to churn out another Miley Cyrus wannabe every 15 minutes.

I was never much of a Farrah fan during her late-'70s peak (Jaclyn Smith was always my favorite of Charlie's Angels, and perhaps I was a bit too young to appreciate the beautiful, blonde, sun-kissed California girl stereotype that Farrah represented -- I still don't), but she won me over during her serious-actress phase in the '80, with movies like The Burning Bed and Extremities. By time her kooky 1990s rolled around, I'd lost interest again, but in the back of my mind, I somehow thought she'd live forever.

Look at me, talking like she's already dead and buried. Miracles happen. I suppose the most sobering part of reading the article was that it reminded me that so many of the strong, powerful iconic actresses that I grew up watching on TV -- Bea Arthur, Suzanne Pleshette, Isabel Sanford -- are gone. Others, like Suzanne Somers, Donna Mills, Linda Gray, and the list goes on and on, are sixtysomething, some going on 70. It's the same old story for many of my movie goddesses (Julie Christie, Glenn Close and Susan Sarandon, among them), but I discovered the power of the big screen a little bit later, so many of them were already pushing fortysomething by time I discovered them.

Farrah, though, was the epitome of youth and glamour, and her swimsuit poster was like the portrait of Dorian Gray. She was never supposed to grow old. Or so I thought. But time marches on (oops, I did it again -- another cliché). Make the most of it.
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