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The story behind Farrah Fawcett's famed poster

Before she was an "Angel," Farrah Fawcett was a "fox" - all because of a $3 pinup. Fawcett, in 1976, was a recognizable face from Noxzema and Wella Balsam shampoo ads, but her career-making role as Jill Munroe, one of "Charlie's Angels," was still a year off. Then, Pro Arts Inc., an Ohio company, hired freelancer Bruce McBroom to photograph the 29-year-old actress in a bikini. When the lensman arrived at her Bel-Air home, Fawcett greeted him wearing a copper-colored one-piece, a look she preferred because it concealed a childhood scar. The most famous picture from that poolside shoot is sun-drenched and innocent, yet also revealing for its time. It depicts Fawcett, seated, one hand caressing her blond mane. Fawcett had done her own hair that morning (rollers, for 15 minutes), and blonde ringlets tousled naturally over her shoulder. Her broad smile reveals 32 California-white teeth. A gold necklace disappears into her décolletage. The Indian blanket backdrop in the poster was from McBroom's '37 Chevy pickup. The poster was a hit inside gym lockers and on the bedroom walls of teen boys across the country, helping to define an era, the way images of Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe had in the decades before. Some 12 million copies were reportedly sold in the first four days. In 2006 on the 30th anniversary of the image, Fawcett, who owned the copyright, said she was proud of its legacy. "I was a little self-conscious, probably because my smile is so big," she has said. But the photo, taken before TV stardom, tabloid romances and sensationalized pictorials, was always "more 'me' than any other photograph out there."


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