Remembering Farrah and Her Role of Many Lifetimes

A tribute for the 10th anniversary of Farrah Fawcett’s passing.

Photo from Pixabay

June 25, 2019 will mark 10 years since the passing of actress Farrah Fawcett. Most people probably remember her for the ‘70s icon that she undoubtedly was. Most likely, the first thought of Farrah is her role as Jill Monroe on “Charlie’s Angels” or the red swimsuit clad model whose posters adorned the walls of every prepubescent boy back in the day.

But it is her later work, first the play “Extremities” about a woman who fights back against a rapist and the 1984 groundbreaking (and controversial) movie “The Burning Bed” that I believe to be her most enduring and significant legacy.

Her portrayals of women affected by violence and domestic abuse allowed others to become educated and aware of the signs of domestic violence. The year 1984 doesn’t feel that long ago to me (and frankly, it feels all too real nowadays, but that’s a subject for a whole different post), but it’s worth remembering that this was a time when domestic violence was talked about in a whisper, if at all. “The Burning Bed” was a highly controversial movie for the heavy issues contained within.

It was a role that many other actresses might not have felt brave enough to take on, but Farrah did. And by making a contribution to erase the stigma of rape and domestic abuse, she became a champion for women whose voices were silent. Finally, they were beginning to be heard.

They were heard on the hotlines, and “The Burning Bed” was reportedly the first such movie to include a toll-free domestic violence hotline at the closing credits, that of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which continues to be available today, 24/7, for people in crisis at 800–799-SAFE. Anyone can call them and be referred to a shelter nearby. Farrah later became a board member of NDVH, and identified with the issue of domestic abuse.

There’s no way to measure how many women Farrah touched by her portrayal of a battered wife. But if she saved only one life, or inspired only one woman to seek help and find her way out, then Farrah becomes more iconic in a way that deserves our remembrance, honor and gratitude.

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Writes about books, GenX, politics, life. Currently working on a memoir. www.melissafirman.com

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