FAST FACTS: Farrah Fawcett Biography

- Mary Farrah Leni Fawcett was born on February 2, 1947, in Corpus Christi, Texas.

- She enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin, where she planned to study microbiology, but later changed her major to art.

- During the 1960s, Fawcett guest starred on a number of popular television shows, while maintaining a lucrative career on the side as a model.

- In 1969 she saw her screen debut in the French film "Love Is a Funny Thing," and in the early 1970s she began to find work in television movies.

- Her big break came in 1976, when she was cast as one of three attractive female private eyes, who work for a mysterious, wealthy man, in "Charlie's Angels"

- "Charlie's Angels" became the top-rated show of the 1976-77 season.

- Her wholesome likeness spawned a cottage industry of merchandise, including one of the defining pieces of 1970s popular culture: the famous Farrah Fawcett poster. An estimated six million of these pictures were eventually sold, and Farrah's image also landed on T-shirts, lunch boxes, and more.

- In 1977, Farrah Fawcett quit ABC's "Charlie's Angels" at the end of its first season, saying she did not have a contract and wanted to pursue other career options that had opened up with the show's spectacular success. Spelling-Goldberg Productions filed suit, charging her with breach of contract. The case went to trial in 1978, ending with an out-of-court settlement in which Fawcett agreed to appear in six more episodes.

- Farrah Fawcett may have been America's favorite calendar girl when she was on "Charlie's Angels," but her film career sputtered and crashed with "Somebody Killed Her Husband," "Sunburn" and "Saturn 3."

- In 1981, Fawcett landed a role in the comedy "Cannonball Run," starring Burt Reynolds, and also that year starred in the made-for-television movie, "Murder in Texas."

- Fawcett subsequently found her niche in made-for-TV movies, particularly those based on true stories, and was highly acclaimed for her role in the 1984 television movie, "The Burning Bed," an emotional tale of domestic abuse.

- Fawcett made news again in 1995 after posing for nude pictures in Playboy magazine and a video.

- Fawcett began a long-term relationship with actor Ryan O'Neal in the early 1980s.

- O'Neal, himself a 1970s sex symbol and the father of Fawcett's son, Redmond O'Neal, has been Fawcett's on-again, off-again companion for many years.

- Fawcett drew headlines for her seemingly disoriented appearance on CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" in 1997.

- Fawcett later began dating producer James Orr, who was convicted of assaulting her in 1998 in a highly publicized scandal that was played up in the tabloids.

- In September 2006 Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer. Four months later, she declared herself cancer free, but the disease returned in May 2007.

- Fawcett will tell of her journey through illness in "Farrah's Story," a two-hour NBC documentary the onetime "Charlie's Angels" icon shot with pal Alana Stewart that airs Friday, May 15.

[Sources: People, St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, Reuters, Los Angeles Times]

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