Farrah Fawcett's life shouldn't be reduced to her iconic cheesecake poster, groundbreaking '70s smash Charlie's Angels or notorious fallen-star meltdown on The Late Show With David Letterman in 1997. (Note: Looking back, a devilish Dave kind of fanned the flames.)
"She was so much more than that," says Natalie Morales, who hosts this thoughtful — and hanky-requiring — bio. With reflections from close friends, family, and (via rare clips) Fawcett herself, the 90-minute special shows how the strong-willed Texan went from hair-tastic TV sensation to Hollywood pariah to comeback queen, only to be ravaged, yet somehow restored, by cancer (she died in 2009 at age 62).
Here are just three reasons Farrah will stay in our hearts forever.
She was a firebrand
Born to a loving blue-collar family in Corpus Christi, Fawcett didn't brave Hollywood at 21 for nothing. So after she notched unimaginable stardom at 29 on Angels (as private detective Jill Munroe) — and producers ignored her pleas for richer storylines — she bolted after just one season.
"To walk away from that show spoke volumes about the depth of her independence," says Morales. "She had that true Texas grit."
She battled her way back
Fawcett, blackballed by Hollywood, didn't give up, showing her mettle playing assault survivors in the off-Broadway hit Extremities (she broke her wrist during a 1983 performance!) and 1984's TV movie The Burning Bed (hello, Emmy nomination). Fawcett's advocacy, notes Morales, helped inspire "a lot of laws protecting victims of domestic violence."
She savored life
Fawcett fought cancer tooth-and-nail for three years. "She tried every remedy possible, from Eastern and Western medicines to alternative treatment in Germany to clinical trials," says Morales.
Toward the end, Fawcett had cameras capture her ordeal for an NBC documentary. Relays famous friend Alana Stewart (who now runs the Farrah Fawcett Foundation for cancer research) in the special: "She wanted to tell people, 'Don't give up.'"
Farrah Fawcett: Behind Closed Doors, Monday, June 24, 9/8c, Reelz