I’m at half mast today.
Look at the next three people you see at the grocery store and describe them in one sentence. Odds are one of the words you might choose will be from the following: dumpy, disheveled, grubby, chubby, plain or unfortunate. Imagine walking through your life with the most common description of you being: “golden locks and a blinding smile”.
Farrah Fawcett hit pop-culture as hard as anyone has ever hit it without doing anything but looking good. I was 11 years old in the summer of 1976– the Bicentennial summer. America was in a happy and celebratory mood, she’d had her 200th birthday and was feeling pretty good. We were finally free from the clutches of the Viet-Nam war, Watergate was in the rearview mirror and people were looking for reasons to be happy.
Oh and sex was in the air!
Well for one, I had just turned 11 years old and suddenly there were things I cared about besides sports. And two, all you had to do was turn on the radio and it was on man! Something called “disco-dancing” music was taking over the airwaves– I’d watch “American Bandstand” with my older brothers and sisters and the kids were unmistakably getting a little bit closer when they danced.
Johnny Taylor lasciviously crooned in his hit “Disco Lady” to: “shove it in, shove it out, move it in, move it out… disco lady”…. wha, wha, what????? My 11-year old hormones were in absolute overdrive! And then Donna Summer just literally said “screw it” and her sex anthem “Love to Love You Baby” shot up the charts and ruled the airwaves the entire summer. The original album version was 16:50 of a moaning, in-heat, disco diva looking for release. The radio version was obviously much shorter, but just as crammed full of sex. The fact that many stations were banning it only heightened it’s appeal. TIME magazine reported that Summer simulated a record 22 orgasms during the song!!! (A record? Such records were kept? By who?)
Well with all of that stimulation, what the hell chance did an 11-year old boy have? I was losing my mind! My hormones were raging inside me– they were doing pushups, lifting weights, running sprints and drinking Squoze (the Red Bull of the era) by the gallon. When the last sprint was done my hormones still couldn’t rest– they would spend the evening hours “disco-dancing” with whatever got in their way. I needed a face to put with all this insanity.
I’d heard the Beach Boys song “California Girls” my whole life, but hadn’t yet seen exactly what they meant. The closest I’d come was Betty and Veronica in the Archie comics, but as perfect as they were, they were fake (a feeling I would re-capture as a grown up living in Scottsdale for three years). They sang about the West coast girls all getting so tan and that there was nothing better than California girls— and I believed it, but I just couldn’t see it (you see kids, there were no computers, I couldnt’ just google “hot-ass California girls”).
And then in the fall I turned on the TV and there she was!!!!! Golden locks and a blinding smile! She was everything I’d ever heard the Beach Boys sing about! Charlie’s Angels was a television show sent from the heavens. It was about three cops or detectives or CIA agents or private investigators or bail bondsmen— it really didn’t matter– to me it was about three hot chicks cavorting about the screen and making dreams come true!
There was Sabrina Duncan, the plain-Jane hotty who was smart and efficient played by Kate Jackson. There was Kelly Garrett, the exotic brunette hotty who always had a tinge of importance and elegance about her, played by Jaclyn Smith. And then……… then there was Farrah, Jill Munroe, the walking embodiment of all that was hot, all that was sexy, all that was California, all that was summer, all that my hormones worked out and danced for. She had golden locks and a blinding smile and a perfect tan.
It was a mediocre television show at best, and yet I will never LOVE a show the way I did “Charlie’s Angels”. My eleven-year old body was on fire for an hour straight every week– every cell in my body engorged and aflame– I probably could have used a full-body condom– I’m actually surprised my undies never got pregnant that fall.
Sample dialogue from an early episode:
Jill Munroe: Hey, I’m gonna take the girls for some pizza, kind of a ‘almost victory’ party. Y’all come along?
Kelly Garrett: I’m sorry, but we’ve got, eh, other plans
[gives Alan a meaningful look]
Jill Munroe: Oh, well, that’s a healthy activity too. See ya!
Whoa, whoa, whoa….. I might only be 11, but I get it!!! Oh-good golly Miss Molly do I get it!!!!
It turned out I wasn’t alone. Farrah-mania swept over the country like perhaps nothing since the Beatles. Her poster– the most famous poster of all-time and it’s not even close– sold millions of copies. A clinging, orange one-piece swimsuit, tossled blonde hair everywhere, head slightly tossed back and a zillion-wat smile that grabbed you where you lived. I bought that poster and another one to boot. I bought Charlie’s Angels cards. I watched the show religiously. Years later I met a girl who I kinda-sorta-thought I might be falling for when one night in her apartment she struck the pose: knees flexed, shoulders squared up to the target, one hand a gun held steady by the other arm– she looked at me ever so seriously and announced, “that’s my Jill Munroe”— boom, no more wondering, I was in love.
Farrah sky-rocketed to fame. Millions of young girls and women copied her hair-stlye. She married the Six-Million Dollar Man. She left the show and went on to a hit and miss career. She got divorced and made some slightly insane television talk-show appearences. But she was always Farrah.
62 years old is far too young to die these days and cancer is a brutal way to go. That smiling young woman from the poster has passed on, but her legacy will live forever– she was an icon for the simplest of reasons– she had golden locks and a blinding smile.
Rest in peace Farrah.