Published June 25, 2009
A record six million copies of the infamous Farrah Fawcett red bathing suit poster have been sold since its debut in 1976, turning it into the engine that drove two Ohio brothers from college dropouts to multimillionaires running poster empire Pro Arts Inc.
Mike and Ted Trikilis were trying to make money selling black-light posters to hippies at Kent State before the swimsuit poster turned them into celebrities in their own right, with their services being hightly sought by Hollywood stars. Ted was even crowned the "King of the Posters" by The Washington Post.
Early in the summer of 1976, the brothers received a package containing 25 shots of Fawcett in a red swimsuit. She had marked her favorite with a star. It featured gleaming white teeth, windblown hair, and ... her nipple.
Ted Trikilis showed the photographs around the office and took notes about differing opinions as to which photo they should use. In the end though, they went with the one Fawcett herself had chosen.
Once published the poster became an instant sensation, and sales continued to increase exponentially over the following months. Pro Arts did $2 million in business that year. In 1977 the company turned over its inventory 24 times, selling 3 million copies of the poster in February and March alone. The sales craze netted $6 million in revenue, $1 million of which was pure profit.
The blitz would later be dubbed "the Farrah Phenomenon." For her one-season run on "Charlie's Angels" Fawcett was paid $5,000 per episode — but she earned $400,000 in royalties from the poster.
In February of this year, the actress sued Bio-Graphics, Inc, Pie International Inc. and author T.N. Trikilis, who collectively claimed to own exclusive rights to the iconic photo.
In the suit, Fawcett claimed that Trikilis had “falsely asserted to third parties that [she] did not own any rights in the photographs.”
The actress claimed that she “owns and possesses all the photographs and negatives taken at the shoot.”
Fawcett initially requested $100,000 minimum, but entered into a dismissal May 11.
The Cleveland Scene contributed to this report.