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Farrah Fawcett's Red Swimsuit: The Poster That Made Her A Star

Icons | January 14, 2019

WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 02: Farrah Fawcett memorabilia included in a donation ceremony at the Smithsonian National Museum Of American History on February 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. Fawcett died of cancer June 25, 2009. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)

Charlie's Angels might have made a star of Farrah Fawcett, but the red swimsuit made her an icon. In 1976, the model and actress was approached by a publishing company to shoot a swimsuit poster. It was a solid idea to promote a show like Charlie's Angels, in which a trio of glamorous, leggy, private detectives fought crime and solved capers. Establishing the Angels -- Fawcett, Kate Jackson, and Jaclyn Smith -- as sex symbols was bound to give the show a boost. Fawcett's time on the hit series was short, as she stayed for only the first season (1976 –1977); her character Jill Munroe was replaced by sister Kris Munroe (played by Cheryl Ladd). But Farrah Fawcett's red swimsuit poster, plastered on seemingly every teenage boy's bedroom wall in the late '70s, lived on, preserving her bombshell status whether her career was thriving or not.

Jaclyn Smith, Kate Jackson & Farrah Fawcett. Source: (curiously.com)

When Charlie’s Angels first aired, Farrah Fawcett was not well known -- but that would soon change.

Farrah Fawcett. Source: (pinterest.com)

Farrah Fawcett's acting career had begun in the late '60s, after she was discovered in a college beauty pageant. By chance, she caught the eye of an agent who encouraged her to pursue a career in acting. That turned out to be excellent advice and Fawcett was on her way. Before long, she was cast in commercials and advertisements for products like Wella Balsam shampoo and Ultra Brite toothpaste. Naturally, she was a successful marking personality with her million-dollar smile and voluminous hair.

The famous poster of Farrah Fawcett in that smoking-hot, red swimsuit catapulted her into stardom.

In an effort to promote the upcoming release of Charlie’s Angels, Farrah Fawcett posed in a red swimsuit for a poster. Producers had approached each of the three original Angels to persuade one of them to pose in a bikini for the poster; even making a deal that they would share in the profits. Fawcett was the only one who rose to the occasion and it was quite possibly one of the best decisions of her career.

Farrah Fawcett Poster. Source: (pinterest.com)

Farrah Fawcett agreed to the famous swimsuit photo shoot on the condition that she was totally in control of every aspect.

At the time of the photo shoot, Fawcett had been dating and living with Lee Majors. Through him, she met the friend and photographer who snapped that famous red swimsuit shot. Bruce McBroom was the photographer responsible for the poster that hung on every teenage boy’s bedroom wall in the late ‘70s.

The poster of Farrah Fawcett in the red swimsuit sold millions of copies, and is known worldwide.

Farrah Fawcett. Source: (femcompetitor.com)

The poster of Farrah Fawcett that made the world take notice is the best-selling poster of all time. Fawcett’s image was alluring and innocent at the same time. She looked so glamorous in the poster, but the photo shoot wasn’t necessarily so. The shoot took place at the home she then shared with Lee Majors, with an old blanket as a backdrop. Fawcett did her own makeup and styled her own hair, achieving all by herself those signature bouncy curls other women would kill for.

The pinup poster Charlie’s Angels’s producers had in mind included a bikini.

Farrah Fawcett was initially expected to be photographed in a bikini. At the time of the photo shoot, she didn’t have one handy, so she chose that plain red, one-piece swimsuit. After all, she had made the bargain that she was in control. After poring over all of the photos from that day, Fawcett was the one to make the ultimate decision on which one would make the cut.

Farrah Fawcett’s famous red swimsuit pinup poster almost didn’t exist.

Truth be told, the company backing the poster wasn’t thrilled about the red swimsuit photo Fawcett chose because she had not yet made a solid name for herself in Hollywood. Popular opinion was that a racy bikini pinup poster would sell more copies than an ordinary one-piece bathing suit picture would. Fortunately, Fawcett had the final decision.

Farrah Fawcett. Source: (1st-name.com)

After that iconic red swimsuit poster hit the market, Farrah Fawcett was well on her way to a promising career. She left Charlie’s Angels after just one season to pursue a career in film. Years later, photographer Bruce McBroom tried to put his finger on exactly why Farrah Fawcett's red swimsuit poster made such a splash. "I think it was a lucky combination of this wholesome, beautiful, all-American girl looking directly at you," he told Vanity Fair, "with a dazzling smile and a red suit that covered a lot but revealed a little."

Tags: 1970s Hair Styles | Career-Defining Moments | Charlies Angels | Childhood Crushes | Farrah Fawcett | Models | Posters | Shampoo | Swimsuits | The 1970s | TV In The 1970s

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.