NOTE: A few weeks ago, Bill Persky sent me the following piece. At the time, MS Fawcett was still desperately ill, and I thought perhaps we should hold off on posting it. In the interim, three things happened:
1) I did post the IMHO brilliant 12-minute mini-documentary of our friend Mister P. , during which he actually reads a portion of the piece about MS Fawcett.
2) MS Fawcett passed, but as Bill P. would mention to me, hers was a passing that was all but eclipsed by the media's coverage of Mr. Jackson's passing - which continues as of this writing, and which would lead to
3) John Stewart reporting that, according to what the media were reporting, and the degree to which they were spending time doing so, all well-known Show Biz celebrities were now dead.
What follows is Bill P.'s remembrance of, not a show biz celebrity, so much as a very sweet and sensitive woman that Bill and his daughters would encounter, one day in the not-so- distant past.
Even today the one name is enough. Although now it conjures up, the image of the woman who acted weird on Letterman, did a pop culture reality show on Tvland and still shows up in People, Star and the tabloids, more as a novelty than a star. In the 80’s she was "Charley’s" highest flying "Angel” - a roll model for teen age girls, and fantasy for teenage boys, of all ages. But even more than the show, it was the red bathing suit poster that made her an icon of the decade. It was everywhere: in school lockers, on the walls of service stations, dorm rooms and countless prison cells. It was a simple enough poster, just her with a smile, that said whatever you wanted it to, kneeling on her haunches, in a rather ordinary, without her in it, red bathing suit, but the combination was devastating.
My twin daughters, Jamie and Liz, who were 11, each had one over their bed. They adored her, though Liza also had a strong commitment to Lindsey Wagner, the Bionic Woman, which I think was the result of Jamie “tapping”(claiming) Farrah first. Jamie constantly carried a cigar box containing 2,000 pictures of Farrah, with no duplications, wherever she went: including the day she met her. We were spending Saturday afternoon, as we often did, at the Laughlin’s, Tom and Dodie of the “Billy Jack” films. It was always open house with tennis, swimming then dinner and a movie and you never knew who would show up to join the regulars: Carl Riener and family, Mel brooks and Ann Bancroft, Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, Tim Van Patton and family who on this particular day brought their good friend Farrah Fawcett. Jamie and Liza became combination stalkers and heat seeking missiles as they honed in and never let her out of sight, the cigar box clutched tightly in Jamie’s hand.
They knew not to intrude on her privacy and kept their distance, but every time she turned around there they were until finally walked over to them and said hello to which Jamie exploded in response, “I have two thousand pictures of you in this box”. Obviously impressed she responded, “two thousand?” Liza quickly added, “and no duplicates”. “Well” she said, “that’s quite a collection, maybe I should take a look”. And for the next hour, with Jamie and Liza seated adoringly beside her, she went through them, telling inside stories about some of them. If they were fans before they were fanatics from then on, and if Farrah ever needed a body part for a transplant, they would have been willing donors. When we were leaving I thanked her and suggested she join the Van Pattons, who were coming to our house in Malibu the next day for lunch. When I told the girls she was coming they gulped in a huge breath, which they didn’t let out until she actually arrived Sunday afternoon.
It was a beautiful day
and we all decided to go for a swim before lunch, and as if they weren’t
thrilled enough that she was there, she came down to the beach wearing it, the
red bathing suit, which looked even better in person. Not only were the kids
dazzled but within minutes the word spread that “She” was there and by the time we came out of the water, there were dozens of people to greet her. She graciously posed for pictures and signed
autographs as we made our way through the mob.
Back at the house she took a shower and left the red bathing suit
hanging in the bathroom to dry. When the
word got out that it was in there unguarded the temptation was too great for
Jamie and Liza, and I only regret I don’t have any pictures of the magic moment
when they tried it on. Though there have been many magical moments in their
lives, I'm sure nothing will ever top it.