Farrah Fawcett Dies of Cancer at 62

Celebrity News Jun. 25, 2009 AT 1:10PM
Farrah Fawcett attends the 2nd Annual TV Land Awards at the Hollywood Palladium. Los Angeles, March 8, 2004. Farrah Fawcett attends the 2nd Annual TV Land Awards at the Hollywood Palladium. Los Angeles, March 8, 2004. Credit: Lionel Hahn/Abaca

Farrah Fawcett, a former pinup girl who skyrocketed to fame as private investigator Jill Munroe on the 1970s television hit Charlie's Angels, has died. She was 62.

The actress passed away Thursday at 9:28 a.m. PST at Saint John's Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., after a two-and-a-half year battle with cancer. She was with longtime partner Ryan O'Neal, friend Alana Stewart and her doctor Lawrence Piro.

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"After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved Farrah has passed away," O'Neal said in a statement to Usmagazine.com. "Although this is an extremely difficult time for her family and friends, we take comfort in the beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and the knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world."

A forlorn O'Neal, wearing a Lance Armstrong Live Strong bracelet, was spotted leaving the hospital Thursday, telling photographers, "She's gone."

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CAREER HIGHS

Born Feb. 2, 1947 in Corpus Christi, Texas, Fawcett, a former college beauty queen, was discovered by a talent scout shortly after moving to Hollywood in the 1960s. She went on to appear in countless commercials and had guest roles on a variety of television shows.

But her career took off in the 1970s -- shortly after she wed actor Lee Majors (they divorced in 1982) -- when she appeared in now-iconic posters wearing a red one-piece bathing suit.

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In 1976, she landed a role as sporty undercover detective Jill Munroe on Charlie's Angels. She left Angels after only one year and began taking on more serious roles.

She received an Emmy nod for her portrayal of a battered wife in the 1984 TV movie The Burning Bed and received two more Emmy nominations for her roles as a predator in the miniseries Small Sacrifices and in 2004's The Guardian.

Throughout her career, the actress -- who caused a stir when she posed for Playboy in 1995 and, again, in 1997 at the age of 50 -- always downplayed her looks.

"God gave women intuition and femininity," Fawcett once said. "Used properly, the combination easily jumbles the brain of any man I've ever met."

A BRAVE BATTLE

In 2006, Fawcett revealed she had anal cancer. Although she appeared to be cancer-free a year later, the disease returned, spreading to her liver, despite seeking alternative medical treatments in Germany.

"Cancer is a disease that is mysterious, headstrong and makes its own rules. And mine, to this date, is incurable," Fawcett said on the NBC documentary Farrah's Story that aired this past spring.

"I know that everyone will die eventually, but I do not want to die of this disease. I want to stay alive," she went on. "So I say to God, because it is, after all, in his hands. It is seriously time for a miracle."

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LOVE STORY

Fawcett and O'Neal began dating in 1980 and have lived together for years. They have a son, Redmond, 24, who is currently serving a prison term in California after repeated drug offenses.

Despite proposing to her countless times, she always told him no. But earlier this week, O'Neal told Barbara Walters: "I've asked her to marry me, again, and she's agreed. He said they "will" wed "as soon as she can, say yes."

In May, O'Neal told NBC News that he has fallen more in love with Fawcett as he watched her bravely battle cancer.

"I know this, that in the last two years I loved her more than I've ever loved her - ever," he told Meredith Vieira. "She's so much more of a woman ... powerful, courageous, fearless and all those adjectives. And I look at her with awe."

In lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations to support cancer research be made to: The Farrah Fawcett Foundation P.O. Box 6478 Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

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