Remember When Farrah Fawcett Did Playboy?

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Farrah Fawcett was known for her Barbie doll looks and sweet demeanor. She played it safe for most of her career, building a demure persona and refusing to pose nude. But little by little, that persona seemed to fade away. Her Playboy modeling history mirrors the evolution that took place in the actress’s attitude towards the risqué.

Farrah Fawcett’s Career Included Role That Poked Fun at Playboy

Farrah Fawcett is perhaps best known for her role in Charlie’s Angels. She played Jill Munroe, OG detective of the Charles Townsend Detective Agency – turned-  racecar driver. But she was more than just a Charlie’s Angel. Fawcett starred as Diane Downs in the TV mini-series Small Sacrifices, which was about a woman who attempted to murder her three children. She was in the cult classic science fiction Logan’s Run as Holly. She was nominated for about a dozen awards including a Golden Globe for Best Actress for the 1986 film Extremities. And in 1995, Fawcett was awarded her own Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Television.

Part of Fawcett’s rise to stardom came in an unconventional way. She’d already been in about two dozen roles in film and TV by 1976 when a company called Pro Arts Inc. asked her agent if she could pose for a poster. The photoshoot resulted in the iconic Farrah Fawcett red bathing suit poster. That poster sold 6 million copies right away and is still the world’s best-selling poster in history.

The story goes that Farrah Fawcett didn’t want to post naked in any photoshoots. She was in a sense honored for her decision to stay covered up despite her beauty and impossible figure. Interestingly, she actually played a Playboy Bunny in a feminist film in 1971, years before doing any work with Playboy. Her character’s name was Kitty Murdock, and the film was called The Feminist and the Fuzz.

“Born Again Farrah”: The 1978 Playboy Shoot

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Farrah Fawcett was first on the cover of Playboy in 1978, but she was mostly fully clothed. She would have been about 31 years old at the time. The December 1978 cover featured Fawcett in an oversized man’s shirt and gold stilettos, casually leaning back and playing with a white Playboy bunny toothpick while holding a glass of champagne.

Inside the magazine was an interview with Fawcett and a series of photos from various roles she’s played over the years. There was one photo that showed her right nipple, captioned as “from Bruce McBroom’s sexy 1976 photo session.” And on the opposite page was a photo borrowed from People Magazine, showing Farrah’s right side of her body, including hips and upper thighs, as she’s holding a white sheet against her skin. It was apparently the photo that People used in its “The 25 Most Intriguing People of 1976” issue.

But any photos that Fawcett did for Playboy in that issue were fully clothed. There is one of her in a blue onesie overall jumper. And the page introducing her is a photo of her ripping up a photo of herself, captioned, “Born Again Farrah.”

1995: Farrah Wanted to Be a “Pretzel Lady”

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Fast forward almost 20 years, however, and Farrah Fawcett’s attitude towards posing in Playboy completely changed. She was once again in the December issue, this time in 1995. She was very naked in those photos. In a 1997 interview with Rosie O’Donnell, she tried to explain how she wanted to stay covered up in that first one.

“I actually did have a vision,” Fawcett told O’Donnell. “I actually thought that I could convince them — which they played along with — that… And it’s true. A woman is more provocative, more sensual, you know, mysterious with like nothing showing.” As she said this, she was trying to pick up her legs and show how she was attempting to cover herself up in the photo shoot.

“And they were going, ‘un hunh.’ I really thought that I could do the whole shoot that way.”

“Like a pretzel lady,” said O’Donnell.

1997: Farrah Uses Her Body to Paint a Canvas for Playboy

By far the most memorable Playboy shoot featuring Farrah Fawcett is the last one she did, in July 1997. It was beyond a Hot Girl Summer for Farrah, who stunned the world with her painting shoot. Farrah Fawcett, you see, was a sculptor and painter. And so, this time, she got to “cover up” in paint. She told O’Donnell she was “covered in paint… extra paint.”

This issue was released with a movie, of course, as that’s what Playboy was doing back then. They were coming out on VHS and then DVD in the late 90s. The 1 hr 11 min film was called Playboy: Farrah Fawcett, All of Me, and was rated R. In the film, she’s naked and using her body, covered in paint, to paint a giant canvas.

The magazine issue that month was released with two covers. One is more well-known and features Fawcett in a black piece of lingerie, looking at the camera from a bed. Her bleached blonde tresses are strewn about, and she looks, well, like she’s been romping around. The cover reads “Farrah’s Naked Art Special.” The other cover featured Fawcett wearing a very large piece of bubble wrap.

It goes without saying that Farrah Fawcett’s contributions to the Playboy world were historic. And there is something truly admirable about the fact that she took her sweet time even getting there in the first place. She was 48 and 50 in her two fully nude Playboy shoots. Sadly, the actress passed away just 12 years later, in 2009, after being diagnosed with cancer in 2006.

Read More: Dolly Parton Recreated Her 1978 Playboy Shoot for Her Husband’s Birthday

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