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Ode to a Beauty Icon

June 25 was anything but a slow news day. First, we learned that former Charlie's Angel Farrah Fawcett had lost her battle with cancer. Then, a few hours later, it was reported that the self-proclaimed King of Pop Michael Jackson had died suddenly of cardiac arrest, news that was so unexpected that it eclipsed that of Fawcett's death, which is a shame.


When we think of Fawcett, 62, most of us will remember her iconic hairstyle. Sexy Hair founder Michael O'Rourke had just moved to the United States from South Africa when Fawcett's hairstyle was all the rage. A nail tech who worked for him asked if O'Rourke could blow-dry her client's hair. Naturally, she wanted the "Farrah." Since he'd never seen Charlie's Angels, O'Rourke had no idea what she was talking about, at least not until she described the look, which hairdressers back home were calling the "Flicka." His client was so impressed with the results that she began sending all of her friends in to see him, and before long he was booked solid.

Beverly Hills hairdresser Allen Edwards is responsible for Fawcett's trendsetting hairstyle, one that did not require, it's worth noting, a single hair extension. I interviewed Edwards a few years ago, and naturally Fawcett's name came up. You've got to remember that women were still using rollers to set their hair in the early '70s, but Edwards didn't go that route with Fawcett. Instead, he used a round brush to blow-dry her hair, clipping the sides away from her face. "When her hair was almost dry, I took out the clips and just ran my fingers through it," he said. "That was the Farrah." Of course, once Charlie's Angels became a hit, it seemed like every woman in America wanted that hairstyle. I required a perm to get the look, but I wore it. The New York Times called Fawcett's 'do a "work of art that looked as if it just came out of the sea and been tossed by the wind into a state of careless perfection. Farrah hair was emblematic of women in the first stage of liberation—strong, confident and joyous—before the reality of mortgage payments and single parenthood set in."

Farrah Fawcett's iconic feathered hairstyle
Farrah Fawcett's iconic feathered hairstyle

In May, NBC aired Farrah's Story, a two-hour documentary chronicling her fight against cancer. One of the most poignant scenes showed her arriving at her doctor's office after another round of chemo wearing a baseball cap. It was obvious that her legendary mane of long blonde hair was gone. Now she is gone as well. —Marianne Dougherty, editor in chief, mdougherty@questex.com

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About the Author

Marianne Dougherty

Marianne Dougherty