The final days of Farrah Fawcett's life were darker than almost anyone realized.
In the September 2009 issue of Vanity Fair magazine, contributing editor Leslie Bennetts reveals previously unshared details of Fawcett's last moments. The "Charlie's Angels" actress succumbed to cancer in June at age 62.
For "Beautiful People, Ugly Choices"-- one of two cover stories in the special edition of Vanity Fair, on newsstands nationally Aug. 11 -- Bennetts spoke to dozens of people close to Fawcett, including life partner Ryan O'Neal, actor George Hamilton, agent Sue Mengers, best friend Alana Stewart and O'Neal's children.
As Fawcett battled cancer, O'Neal and his oldest son, Griffin, warred over the actress's will, not just verbally -- O'Neal attempted to shoot Griffin at Fawcett's 60th birthday celebration.
"I could have hit him, but I missed," O'Neal told Bennetts. "Farrah was lying in bed, and she could hear it all -- fights swinging, gunshots. Welcome to the O'Neals'!"
Griffin claims O'Neal's proclamations of love for Fawcett in the days before her death -- O'Neal told Barbara Walters he planned to wed the ailing actress -- were all fake.
"All those crocodile tears," Griffin said. "My dad's only goal was to make sure he would be in the will. It was so disgustingly transparent as soon as he found out she was terminal. I consider him a vulture presiding over a carcass. Ryan thought he was going to get everything."
O'Neal said Fawcett was so heavily sedated at the end of her life, sometimes, she couldn't recognize him. "When I got to the hospital last night, I said, 'Who am I?' She had that thousand-mile stare, and she said, 'Steve,'" O'Neal told Bennetts. "I turned to the nurse and said, 'Who's Steve?' the nurse said, 'He supplies the medications.'"
The story spotlights O'Neal's regrets about how he handled his relationship with Fawcett -– she once walked in on him in bed with actress Leslie Stefanson, he told Bennetts -- as well as his misgivings about his relationships with his children, including Redmond, his son with Fawcett who's in a court-mandated rehab program, and Tatum, his Oscar-winning estranged daughter. O'Neal inadvertently hit on her at Fawcett's funeral.
"I had just put the casket in the hearse and I was watching it drive away when a beautiful blond woman comes up and embraces me," O'Neal told Bennetts. "I said to her, 'You have a drink on you? You have a car?' She said, 'Daddy, it's me -- Tatum!' I was just trying to be funny with a strange Swedish woman, and it's my daughter. It's so sick."
"That's our relationship in a nutshell," Tatum later told Bennetts. "You make of it what you will." She sighed. "It had been a few years since we'd seen each other, and he was always a ladies' man, a bon vivant."
Now that Fawcett's gone, O'Neal is apparently attempting to do right by her by helping Redmond stay on the road to drug addiction recovery. But he's not holding out hope that a higher power will reunite him with Fawcett -- he told Bennetts, "I believe this is heaven."
"I was thinking I'll get a motorcycle, because I'll get killed and then I can join her," O'Neal said, "but, then, I thought, no, I can't, because my son's in jail again."