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Thursday, June 25, 2009

WOW - What a Day

Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon.

What a sad couple of days for Icons, eh?

I was thinking about the one and only time I spoke to Farrah Fawcett.

She was taking the 'elite' acting class from the same coach I had - I was, of course, not a part of the elite group which was made up of people who had already become stars in the 'biz' and then decided they wanted to learn how to be actors. There is nothing particularly new or smarmy about this practice. Many times someone will hit it big and become a star long before they have any chance to really learn and hone their craft. She was one of those people.

Like any other 20-something ( I knew everything while not actually accomplishing anything), I made the normal snarky remarks about the men and women in that 'elite' class. They had no real talent. They were Barbie dolls or Ken dolls. They were keeping people with real talent (translation: me and my pals) out of the business by hogging all the legit roles. Blah blah blah. Farrah had been out of Charlie's Angels for awhile and had recently hooked up with Ryan O'Neil and frankly, we just looked down on her. She was too beautiful to be smart, right? Too connected to be a real actress or artist. GOD we were full of ourselves - all hormones and righteousness, that was us, as we sat on the floor of cabins up in The Canyon talking about our art and solving all the problems of the world....we knew so much and did so little.

Anyway, Farrah was cast in the movie The Burning Bed and we were appalled. How dare someone who had shot to fame because of white teeth and great hair be cast to play a dowdy, white trash, abused woman - the first to use Domestic Violence as a defense against a murder charge? That part should have gone to anyone but her...like maybe to me (as though a middle-class Catholic girl with a Berkeley education would have been any better suited to play the part, right?).

Farrah arranged for a mini-premier of the movie to be shown to students of The Teacher (few of us ever said his name out loud, we were too cowed into submission by his impressive career and resume. Plus he was a real jerk and scared us all to death). We all decided to go so we could make fun of her - and there would be free food and liquor and since most of us were already alcoholics and rarely had enough money to fill our fridges, any chance to eat and drink for free was never turned down.

The lights came up after the credits rolled and we sat there stunned. She had turned in one of the most amazing performances I had ever seen. I remember feeling ashamed, jealous, sad and angry all at the same time. The others probably felt the same since there was very little chit chat after the thundering round of applause.

After a few minutes, I made my way sheepishly over to where she was standing. She was, of course, stunning - dressed in a designer white and silver pantsuit with that incredible hair and those flipping TEETH that just gleamed an impossible white. She was laughing and smiling to her friends (I guess they were her friends). I caught her eye and she turned to me. I put out my hand, shook hers and said, "I was so wrong. You are an actress".

She gave me a hug and whispered, 'Thank you' in my ear. Her soft Texas drawl was tear choked.

It was the only time I ever spoke to her.

When she went through all her transformations - artist, drug addict, abused woman, mother, cancer patient - I just kept her in my prayers. I watched her continue to add to her body of work and do so with grace and talent and dignity. When I heard she had returned to The Church, shortly after the goofy appearance on Letterman, I thought, "Well, of course you did...we all do, eventually, when the going gets rough". I watched the recent special on her cancer battle and wished her well.

Sometimes, when I think back on my life, I realize I have had some incredible experiences. I have crossed paths with a lot of awesome people and quite a few bozos. All in all, however, I have been blessed.

Rest in peace, Farrah. May your soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, enter into the kingdom. May our Heavenly Mother meet you and lead you gently to her Son.

And please, pray for me. Thank you.

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