Farrah Fawcett: The Poster That Helped Make Her a 1970s Sensation

Farrah Fawcett was most famous for two things: her role in Charlie’s Angels — one of the most famous TV shows of the 1970s — and her iconic poster. This raises an interesting question: Which was more profitable for Fawcett? Here’s a look at the story behind the iconic poster and how it was borne from a moment of “desperation.”

Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith standing in a row
Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith from Charlie’s Angels | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Farrah Fawcett of ‘Charlies’ Angels’ was on a poster that came from a moment of ‘desperation’

Entertainment Weekly reports that in 1976 a photographer named Richard McBroom got a call about taking Fawcett’s photos for a poster. McBroom describes it, “One day I got a call from some guy in the Midwest from a poster company. He said ‘I’m doing this poster of Farrah Fawcett and Farrah said to hire you to shoot her.” McBroom went on “I showed up and it was just the two of us…..Farrah did her own hair and her own makeup, not that she needed much makeup.”

McBroom ended up at Fawcetts’s house all day with Fawcett putting on various outfits. He said even though she looked great, he knew they had not captured what was going to work. Broom says he was “getting desperate.” He asked Fawcett if there was anything else she might have to try on – he asked if she had a bikini and she said she didn’t have one.

Farrah Fawcett wearing a suit
Farrah Fawcett | Robin Platzer/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

Fawcett told McBroom she would look around to see what else she had. Broom describes what happened next. “She comes to the door and she’s standing in the doorway in that red suit…..It was like it was spray painted on her; I don’t think it was a swimsuit. I said ‘You know what? That’s it!” McBroom recalls that Farrah began posing sitting up and he said,“We’ve got it.”

The impact of the poster

ABC News reports Fawcett said she felt sexy in the photo despite not being in a sexy pose. She said “I wasn’t in a sexy pose like Brigitte Bardot. I mean, certainly it’s sexy because that’s my figure, and my nipples were showing,” she said. “But, that’s me.”That one photo shoot on a hot summer afternoon turned Fawcett into a star. MeTV states Fawcett selected the photo shot she liked the best from among the ones taken – she marked it with a star.

A version of the Charlie’s Angels theme

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Fawcett ended up making more money from the poster than from her role on Charlie’s Angels. She earned $5,000 per week for her role on the show and $400,000 from the poster. The poster propelled Fawcett into a pop icon of the 1970s and the poster became the most purchased of all time. Today, the swimsuit she wore on the poster is in the Smithsonian Museum. It sold half a million copies within its first few months of availability and eventually sold more than 5 million copies – and it all came about as a result of a one-piece red bathing suit.