Farrah Fawcett – The Cover Girl Of The 1970s

The Charlie’s Angels star became the go-to cover star for magazines of all sorts during the second half of the 1970s.

There are certain celebrities and movie/TV stars who seem to encapsulate their era, and none more so perhaps than Farrah Fawcett in the second half of the 1970s. Immediately from her debut in Charlie’s Angels in 1976, Fawcett became a superstar – and her high-profile marriage to the Six Million Dollar Man himself Lee Majors just made her even more iconic as the stars of the two hottest shows on TV got together (and then, even more excitingly for the press, divorced). Add to this her legendary poster that was the biggest selling pin-up of the era, selling some five million copies, and Farrah Fawcett could lay claim to being the biggest star of the period.

This fame – and the public demand for as much Farrah as they could get – ensured that she would appear on the cover of countless magazines during this time. From movie and Tv magazines to salacious and bullshit-focused scandal magazines that told outrageous lies about many celebrities without ever being taken to task, Farrah was everywhere. She was that rarest of sex symbols – one that appealed to men and women, across generations. So she would appear in Playboy and Women’s Weekly, High Society and Cosmopolitan, representing different things to different audiences. If a magazine could think of any excuse to feature her on the cover – as with The Wild World of Skateboarding, whose editors must’ve thanked all the gods when they found a picture of her on a skateboard – they would.

Her fame and popularity lasted until the turn of the decade when her exit from Charlie’s Angels (and the show’s eventual demise) and a few flop movies like Saturn 3 and Sunburn rather dented her shining stardom. As the new decade took hold and fashions changed, Farrah seemed like a 1970s hangover – the big hair, the California Girl looks no longer were the fashion. As she got older, she achieved the acting plaudits denied to her during her sex symbol years with films like The Burning Bed and Extremities and wound up as Hollywood royalty in the later 1980s and into the 1990s. She remained a household name up right up to her highly publicised death from cancer in 2009, aged 62.

Here is just a small sampling of her magazine covers from 1976 to 1981.

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  1. I lived through the Farrah era and never quite understood it. She’s certainly an attractive woman, but she was never “all that,” not for me. There were several women more attractive than Farrah on my bus to breakfast this morning.

    1. Isn’t that always the way with ‘beautiful people’? They are rarely especially exceptional, but they have something – even if that something is simply fame.

  2. I was obsessed with Charlie’s Angels and bought every pull-out poster magazine I could find and stuck them all over my dorm wall at school including many of Farrah. They were so glossy and American to a British 1970s kid and I think that was part of the appeal.

  3. This is another magnificent sampling from the excellent Reprobate. I love especially the Crazy ‘Energy Crisis’ cover, Starpics, Skateboarder and ‘Saturn 3’ Celebrity Skin cover. May I contribute some of my ‘own’ (as in no doubt recycled from some other bozo who I have forgotten) bullshit to the pile? Comments section-peanut gallery and all that. I have to agree somewhat with above comments. While Farrah was obviously ‘beautiful’, she is not as throbbingly exciting or as ‘fit’ in my view as her co-starring Angels, or, for example the babes of Battlestar Galactica – whose names escape me, I lament. Marin Jensen was one, I think? Another played the character of Cassiopeia. As you say, beauty and sex appeal are nebulous concepts. Though I cannot even hear the word ‘iconic’ without wanting to vomit because of it’s overuse, it is applicable in the case of Farrah. The poster will surely assume great importance in the history of portraiture soon. Why aren’t feminist art critics seizing upon the nipple? A combination of factors conspired to make Farrah a deity of a particular moment, and as a superhuman, therefore generated an industry of rumours and obsessive fantasies. It’s about representing an indefinable something. I think she looks sexiest on the skateboard, because here she seems more unguarded, approachable – vulnerable in a way, but not a leering way. I’ve petitioned Network and Arrow about releasing a special edition of the weirdo SF Saturn 3, with bonus footage and a documentary exploring the even weirder production of the film. Madness, I know, but we’ve got to dream, we must never stop. ‘Dreaming is free’ – Debbie H.

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