TV Made Fawcett the Lovable Star She Was
There are stars TV creates but cannot contain.
On some level, Farrah Fawcett must have known she was one of them, as she exited the medium after just one "Charlie's Angels" season in what is still one of TV's most contentious contractual battles. She would return for some deal-ordered "Angels" guest spots, a few movies, a failed sitcom and a host of talk-show appearances.
But in truth, in that one Angelic year, she had given the best she had to offer to TV, and it had given her its star-making best in return.
Some have argued that it wasn't so much her role as the often-befuddled Jill Monroe that made her a star as it was her hair, which is all some remember of the part. And then there's that contemporaneous poster, with Fawcett in a one-piece bathing suit that revealed, pressed against the fabric, the promise of more than could be shown. (It was a simpler time.)
Yet "Angels" was able to do for Fawcett what no poster, no matter how famous, ever could: It established her appeal beyond her body and a now out-of-fashion hairstyle. It created a persona for her: the girl-next-door beauty who is not completely comfortable being a beauty.
When you saw the "Angels" in person, your eyes went to Jaclyn Smith; she was the stunner. But on screen, Fawcett was the more approachable one, and the one who drew you in.
"Angels" proved that Fawcett was a natural TV performer — but she was not, as she herself admitted, a natural actress. She worked hard at it, and she did improve. But in even her best work, the 1984 movie "The Burning Bed," the effort shows, which is probably why the film works less well now than it did in 1984, when audiences were more inclined to be pleased and surprised by the effort itself.
Sadly, TV has been unkind to Fawcett over the last decade, as it tends to be to those we'd prefer to see frozen in their, and our, youth. Still, it's the medium through which most of us met her, and many of us (through her final interview special) said goodbye.
And now with countless clips and farewell reports, it will remind us of why we fell in love in the first place.
Because once you're a TV star, eventually the medium brings you home.