Farrah Fawcett Dies at 62, Succumbs to Cancer

Iconic "Charlie's Angels" actress loses cancer battle, dies in Calif. hospital.

June 25, 2009, 11:04 AM

June 25, 2009— -- Farrah Fawcett, the 1970s "It Girl" who was known for her cascading golden hair and bombshell body, died in a Santa Monica hospital today, ABC News has learned. She was 62-years-old.

"After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved Farrah has passed away," Fawcett's longtime romantic partner Ryan O'Neal said in a statement released by Fawcett's publicist, Paul Bloch. "Although this is an extremely difficult time for her family and friends, we take comfort in the beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and the knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world."

Watch a special edition of "20/20" TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET for the Barbara Walters special "Farrah's Love."

Fawcett became a symbol of the will to survive through her years-long battle with cancer, which was chronicled in the recent TV documentary "Farrah's Story." Her death comes on the heels of O'Neal's declaration that she agreed to marry him.

"I've asked her to marry me, again, and she's agreed," O'Neal, 68, told Barbara Walters who sat down with O'Neal and others close to Fawcett in the final days of the actress' life.

Fawcett and O'Neal began dating in 1980 and lived together with son Redmond. The two never officially tied the knot, but not for O'Neal's lack of trying.

"I used to ask her to marry me all the time," he said. "But ... it just got to be a joke, you know. We just joked about it."

Now, Fawcett leaves behind O'Neal, their 24-year-old son and her father, James. She was previously married to Lee Majors, star of "The Six Million Dollar Man," from 1973 to 1982.

Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006. Although doctors declared her free of cancer in February 2007, a few months later they learned that the cancer had returned.

Fawcett's alternative approach to her cancer treatment was surrounded by much controversy. After her initial diagnosis, Fawcett received traditional treatments in California.

According to People.com, Fawcett was "disheartened" by both the reoccurrence of the cancer and the treatment she was receiving in the United States, so she traveled to Germany's University Clinic in Frankfurt in search of an alternative course of treatment.

Some reports have said that she received experimental stem cell treatment while in Germany. But Craig Nevius, who helped produce "Farrah's Story," told ABCNews.com that while details of the stem cell treatment have been widely reported, it has never been confirmed by the actress or sources close to her.

Last year, an employee at the UCLA Medical Center was disciplined for accessing Fawcett's medical records, a few weeks after the hospital announced that several employees had been fired for snooping in Britney Spears' records.

Fawcett's attorney told The Associated Press that an employee at the hospital reviewed the actress' medical records without authorization and then details about her treatment appeared in the tabloid the National Enquirer.

Though Fawcett returned home earlier this year, taking a break from long hospital stays, according to People magazine, the actress returned to the hospital for at least two weeks prior to her death.

Farrah Fawcett's Life in the Limelight

Fawcett first stepped into the spotlight playing Jill Munroe in the TV series "Charlie's Angels" in the 1970s. The series became a smash hit and Fawcett quickly became an iconic pin-up model for millions of men. She pioneered a feathered hairstyle dubbed the "Farrah Do" or "Farrah Hair" that remained in vogue throughout the decade.

She later went on to earn one of three career Emmy Award nominations for her role as a battered wife in the acclaimed television movie "The Burning Bed."

Fawcett stirred controversy when she posed nude in the December 1995 issue of Playboy, but buzz about the actress baring all only served to make the magazine fly off newsstands -- the issue was Playboy's most successful of the 1990s, with over 4 million copies sold worldwide.

Defying naysayers, in 1997, at age 50, Fawcett posed again for the July issue of Playboy, which also sold well.

Fawcett's last project was closely tied to her illness. "Farrah's Story," the 90-minute documentary chronicling her battle with cancer, featured footage shot by Fawcett and her friends on a home video camera. It aired on NBC in May, attracting 8.9 million viewers.

The film showed both the ugly and uplifting sides of her struggle, juxtaposing video of Fawcett vomiting and shaving her head with scenes of her dancing with friends during times when her health was up. "Farrah's Story" also featured moving footage of her lying on a hospital bed with O'Neal, and his solemn vow, spoken to the camera: "I will never love anyone like I love Farrah."

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