Farrah Fawcett Red Swimsuit: The Story Behind the Famous PosterMariaLianos
Ryan O’Neal and his daughter Tatum O’Neal were in Washington, D.C. for a special presentation in memory of Farrah Fawcett.
On Wednesday, February 2, which would have been Farrah’s 64th birthday, the family donated several items to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, including the infamous red bathing suit Farrah wore in her immensely popular ’70s pinup poster.
Ah the red swimsuit photo of Fawcett… it graced the walls of many teenage boys and men alike in the 1970s.
When the photo was taken, Fawcett was still an unknown actress wanting to make it big. She hadn’t yet signed on for her hit show Charlie’s Angels but got some work doing commercials. Bruce McBroom, a freelance photographer had worked with her before, and Pro Arts agreed to hire him for the shoot. They wanted a bikini shot of the blond beauty.
The shoot was at Fawcett’s Bel Air, California home where she and her husband at the time, actor Lee Majors, lived.
According to friend Nels Van Patten, Fawcett styled her own hair and did her make-up without the aid of a mirror. Her blonde highlights were further heightened by a squeeze of lemon juice.
The photos were taken behind the home by their pool. She tried on several swimsuits, but when Fawcett finally tried on the now famous red one-piece swimsuit to cover a childhood scar on her stomach, McBroom knew he had something!
For the backdrop McBroom grabbed the old Indian Blanket covering his car seat and hung it up, “I should have told people I styled this,” McBroom says, “but the truth is it came off the front seat of my ’37 Chevy.”
From 40 rolls of film, Farrah herself selected her six favorite pictures, eventually narrowing her choice to the one that made her famous. The resulting poster, of Farrah in a one-piece red bathing suit, was a best-seller; sales estimates ranged from over 5 millionto 8 million to as high as 12 million copies
Along with the bathing suit, Ryan O’Neal donated Farrah’s script from Charlie’s Angels, and the original poster.
Sadly, Farrah Fawcett lost her battle with cancer in 2009.