Three women were featured in this detective show, but make no mistake: Farrah was The Star of "Charlie's Angels." Although she appeared as a regular for only one season, the simultaneous combination of the series' popularity and the release of her sexy bathing suit poster, rocketed the blonde with the tousled hair into a new stratosphere of super-stardom.
With her shiny white teeth, her smile as wide as Texas, and her innovative “Farrah Do,” she was larger than just a TV star in the late 1970s. Her good looks were compared to the great beauties in history.
Farrah's feathery hairstyle was emulated by young women all over the world, and even her unique name (Ferrah was changed to Farrah when she was young) became the new rage for mothers to christen their baby girls.
Co-star Kate Jackson recalled to “Entertainment Weekly” the first time she laid eyes on Farrah at a Hollywood party, several years before “Charlie's Angels”:
“I was almost blinded by the most gorgeous, magnificent, glorious girl about my age... I just froze and stared, and I thought, 'Oh God, the competition is really bad around here.'
"I told her later that she was the person that almost made me go home. I thought, 'I better go home and be a teacher or something.'”
First came the poster that hung in every boy's bedroom, Farrah posing in the red one-piece bathing suit. It sold 12 million copies. For the photo-shoot Farrah styled her own hair and makeup without a mirror, and out of hundreds of photos taken, she selected the picture that made her famous. Because she retained the rights of the pictures, she made much more money for the one-day photo shoot than she earned on “Charlie's Angels.”
“Charlie's Angels” was the first “jiggle” show on TV; it was renowned for showing the female stars dressed in bra-less tight T-shirts. Farrah told TV Guide, “When the show was number three, I thought it was acting. When it got to number one, I decided it could only be because none of us wears a bra.”
Farrah and co-stars Jaclyn Smith and Jackson played private detectives working for the Townsend Associates, a detective agency run by John Forsythe, a man never seen by the girls.
Producer Aaron Spelling created the series and originally aired it as a Movie of the Week on ABC. The movie brought in huge ratings and the series was born. “Charlie's Angels” finished the 1976-77 season as the No. 5 show and Farrah won in a landslide the People's Choice Award: Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Program
Farrah left “Charlie's Angels” after the first season because the brutal work schedule put pressure on her marriage to actor Lee Majors, and she also wanted to pursue movie roles. The fact that she was getting paid only $10,000 per episode was probably another factor in her decision. Spelling and his production company sued, however, and as part of the settlement Farrah agreed to guest-star in six episodes the final two seasons.
A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, Farrah was, naturally, the most popular and pretty girl in school. She left the University of Texas after a Hollywood publicist saw her photo and urged her to move to LA to model. She appeared in numerous TV commercials, most notably as the Breck Girl for Breck Shampoo, and in a Noxzema shaving cream spot with football star Joe Namath.
Classic TV Beauties 1970s Countdown
FARRAH FAWCETT as Jill Munroe in "Charlie's Angels"
Farrah was the girl on “The Dating Game,” and she broke into TV acting on shows “I Dream of Jeannie," "Owen Marshall," and on her husband's series, "The Six Million Dollar Man."
After "Charlie's Angels," Farrah earned an Emmy nomination for playing a battered wife in the TV movie “The Burning Bed,” in 1984. She also received accolades and an Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress in Robert Duvall's 1997 movie "The Apostle." Two years earlier, at age 48, she had posed in "Playboy," an issue that became one of the best selling magazines of the decade.
Farrah was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006 and died three years later at age 62.