GREAT ICONOGRAPHY: The Farrah Fawcett-Majors Poster, 1976

Written By: Greg Howell - Jan• 16•18

Rare MINT condition Farrah spiral notebook, 1977, undoubtedly responsible for distracting thousands of students in classrooms.

6 months before the premiere of the series, Charlie’s Angels, and just weeks after the surprise success of the March 21, 1976 television movie of the same name, ABC hired photographers to shoot images posters of the three new sensational angels in bikinis. Only Farrah Fawcett-Majors accepted, but with a demand for complete control and absolutely no bikini. After a couple photo shoots, Farrah disliked all the photos, and requested photographer Bruce McBroom.  He wound his way through the Hollywood Hills’ to Mulholland Drive, the scenic home of Lee Majors and Farrah, both long-time friends of his, excited to shoot her against this beautiful, picturesque backdrop.

McBroom recalled for Time Magazine that Farrah did her own hair, makeup, and selection of suits, and they dedicated rolls of film to various images by the pool, overlooking Hollywood, but Farrah still was unhappy. Finally, she changed suits once again, this time into the classic red one-piece now so famous.

And I literally said to myself, “Oh my God.” I knew that was it. I had an Indian blanket from Mexico that served as the seat cover for my beat-up 1937 Chevy pickup with colors that, it just popped into my head, would match the suit. I’d like to make it sound like it was all planned. But it was a spontaneous, happy intersection of coincidence. I didn’t do anything. I just put her in a spot and asked her to turn it on. When I saw the film processed, I knew we’d gotten it — somewhere in these 36 frames, there’s a poster. 

Farrah selected only two images, and the rest is history. The poster sold over 6 million copies, as well as many other merchandised products, over the next several years. By the time Charlie’s Angels premiered in the fall, Farrah was already a fixture in millions teenagers’ bedrooms, making Farrah Fawcett-Majors a wealthy woman even before the show premiered.

The image is one of those magic moments that comes from spontaneity and familiarity. The textured, striped and drooping blanked set against Farrah’s classic mane and bright, beautiful smile was magical. And, then, of course, the hint of Farrah’s lovely form underneath that red one-piece bathing suit, well, caught the attention of everyone. According to McBroom, “I think it was a lucky combination of this wholesome, beautiful, all-American girl looking directly at you with a dazzling smile and a red suit that covered a lot but revealed a little.”

That classic red bathing suit is now in the Smithsonian museum collection, alongside original merchandising of the image, such as jigsaw puzzles, notebooks, and, of course, the poster!

SOURCES:

http://americanhistory.si.edu/press/releases/smithsonian-collects-objects-farrah-fawcett%E2%80%99s-career

https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2015/08/farrah-fawcett-red-swimsuit-bruce-mcbroom-history-of-fashion

http://content.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1907185,00.html

 

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