"She meant everything to me," says Woodward, who is paying tribute to the late actress for the first time on what would have been her 77th birthday
Farrah Fawcett's longtime friend Scott Woodward, an adjunct professor at Parsons School of Design, pays tribute on what would have been Fawcett's 77th birthday, nearly 15 years after she died from anal cancer on June 25, 2009.
When I first sat down to write this, I knew I had to finally share what Farrah Fawcett meant to me. In the almost 15 years since her death, I never once talked about my dear friend in the press. But I realized that life is not infinite; it's finite, and the world should know that I miss her dearly, as we all do.
She would have turned 77 years old today, so happy birthday to the biggest icon in my life and on this planet. If I could describe her in one word, I would say she was fearless. Not a day goes by that I don't think about her tenacity, strength, her talent and otherworldly beauty. Who could forget? She had such a positivity and zest for life. For that, she'll be a woman we'll always love.
Nothing compares to my decade-long friendship with Farrah. I first discovered her in People magazine at a grocery mart newsstand a few blocks down from my very insular town in Hanover, Pennsylvania, when I was an artistic, creative young boy. It occurred to me after ruminating on how I could give an ode to her, that this would be the perfect place. Farrah deserves to know how much she was cherished. It's a sentiment that echoes how everyone feels about her. She always said life was sweetened by risk, so this is for you, my fondest Farrah.
While on a transcontinental flight from Los Angeles to New York in 1998, I was the Chief Marketing Officer of Movado Group at the time, headed to the premiere of Meet Joe Black, and I happened to be seated next to Farrah's new manager, Mark Burg. We hit it off, and when he told me who he represented, I had to pick myself off the aisle floor. "You've got to be kidding me!" I thought.
I had a poster of her on my bedroom wall, like half of the male population in the 1970s and '80s. But she was more to me than just a pin-up girl or the break-out star of Charlie's Angels. She was inspirational with a megawatt smile, a mane like I'd never seen and resolve of steel: the quintessential California blond, by way of Texas. I'd always secretly hoped that during my journey, working with some of the biggest names in Hollywood like Brad Pitt, Lady Gaga, Will Smith and Harry Styles. I would cross paths with Farrah. It was my dream.
"I think she would just love you," Burg told me. I never asked why. Although I didn't know it then, when he gave me her number, it changed the trajectory of my life forever.
Two weeks later, I took a deep breath. I was nervous to call. When Farrah answered, she was magnetic. We finished each other's sentences, gabbing for two hours straight while I sat on the deck of the Mondrian hotel in Los Angeles, pinching myself in disbelief. She's normal, yet not, right? She's the girl next door who grew up in a working-class town, the daughter of Jimbo and Polly Fawcett, but a worldwide legend on par with Princess Diana, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. Later that week, we met for drinks for the first time. It was this moment of kismet from the beginning — I'll never forget it for as long as I live.
Farrah exited her Jaguar and stood outside the ultra-posh L'Ermitage in Beverly Hills when *NSYNC arrived, and paparazzi swarmed the hotel. I quickly whisked her inside, and she smiled brightly, wearing a nude-colored shirt and jeans with a fabulous pashmina wrap around her shoulders. She smelled of a delicious vanilla scent (she mixed her own perfume). "You have the most beautiful hair," she told me, grabbing my locks. The woman with the most famous head of hair complimented me. It was magic from the first embrace. We were like two souls who had known each other for 20 years.
One of my fondest memories of Farrah was when I sheepishly asked her to be my date to the Independent Spirit Awards on March 25, 2000. As usual, she showed up for me. Cameron Diaz happened to be at our table outside, and she had been cast to play her in the movie version of Farrah's old TV series Charlie's Angels. We all had such a beautiful afternoon beachside. Even though Farrah and I lived nearly 3,000 miles apart, we quickly became very close. Farrah always inspired me to believe I could do anything — it was how she always lived her life.
When I visited her high-rise condominium on Wilshire Boulevard's Golden Mile, she was going through a paradigm shift. She was single and vivacious and had a vast art collection of her work and books. I loved sitting on the sofa and gazing at her while she painted and sculpted on her dining room table, which doubled as an art studio. Andy Warhol was the highlight of her life, and that portrait he painted of her hung inside her apartment. When her artwork was featured in the "Summer of Andy" series of exhibitions in July 2003 at Warhol's museum in Pittsburgh, she was in awe. She was a true artist and a fabulous baker, serving her famous blueberry pies.
But during the period I knew her, Farrah was also evolving in life and balancing her romantic decisions. She did her best to navigate her relationship with the late actor Ryan O'Neal, whom she adored, while helping her struggling son, Redmond. She loved him deeply as he on her mind constantly. But she was a faithful woman and relied heavily on her close friends and catholic upbringing to get through the tough times.
Before Farrah's death, at age 62, she agreed to have her suffering and treatment chronicled for a television documentary This is Farrah Fawcett about her rare anal cancer, a seldom discussed affliction, leaving a legacy of awareness about her disease. Although I never told anyone this, I knew something was wrong with her before the tabloids outed her diagnosis in September 2006.
On a trip to Los Angeles, Farrah had to cancel our dinner date, which was so unlike her. She shared with me that she she was in bed all day, drinking tea, not feeling well and deeply concerned about her health. We chatted for three hours, but I knew something was amiss. I made her promise me that she would see a doctor and she readily agreed. She said, "I promise you, honey, I will."
When she found out about her illness, she was devastated but was of the spirit that would fight it head-on, truly battling it with everything she had — and she did. She underwent intense chemotherapy and radiation and was declared cancer-free in February of the following year. But in May 2007, there was grim news. It was devastating for all of us to find out the cancer returned. Traveling back and forth to Germany for her alternative treatments, she often wore a gray Scoop cashmere sweater I bought for her birthday. Every time I saw pictures of her, I felt close. She was so steely, tenacious and courageous.
Toward the end of her life, we had regular phone calls, a lot of them ending in tears. "You have no idea how you pick me up, how you make me feel, and I love you until next time," she'd always say. Those words are forever in the back of my mind.
Before she died, I had commissioned artwork for her of charcoal with crystal encrustations from a photograph that captured her sweet essence. I sent it with a note to tell her how much I loved her and that our time together meant everything to me. When she called to thank me, it was one of the greatest joys of my life. "I love you more," she said after unwrapping the gift. It was her last words ever spoken to me.
After all these years, I finally have something to say back. I love you, Farrah Fawcett, and I always will.
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