Farrah Fawcett, who captured hearts in the 1970s playing a beautiful detective in "Charlie's Angels," died Thursday as loved ones stood by her hospital bedside, ending the Hollywood icon's brave and public battle against cancer.
Fawcett, 62, came to the end of her hard-fought 2 1/2-year battle with terminal anal cancer in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Los Angeles, hours after a priest was summoned to her bedside.
"She's gone," Fawcett's longtime love Ryan O'Neal told People magazine. "She now belongs to the ages. She's now with her mother and sister and her God. I loved her with all my heart. I will miss her so very, very much."
O'Neal, friend and hairdresser Mela Murphy and pal Alana Stewart were among those who kept vigil as the stricken star drew her final breath. Their desperate hopes for an unlikely recovery were dashed at 9:28 a.m. Pacific Time. O'Neal and Fawcett's 24-year-old son Redmond, in prison on drug charges, spoke to his mother by phone.
He told his mom "how much he loved her and asked her to please forgive him, that he was so very, very sorry," Ryan O'Neal said.
The news came just days after O'Neal said he planned to wed Farrah.
"I've asked her to marry me, again, and she's agreed," O'Neal told Barbara Walters for an interview airing on Friday. "We will as soon as she can, say yes."
"I promise you, we will," he said. "Absolutely."
But it was not to happen. O'Neal, 68, said Fawcett drifted in and out of consciousness all through her last night.
"I talked to her all through the night," said O'Neal. "I told her how very much I loved her. She's in a better place now."
Stewart, Fawcett's close friend, was frequently with Fawcett during her terminal struggle and spoke of their friendship after Fawcett died.
"There are no words to express the deep sense of loss that I feel," Stewart said. "For 30 years, Farrah was much more than a friend, she was my sister, and although I will miss her terribly I know in my heart that she will always be there as that angel on the shoulder of everyone who loved her."
The star's condition began to worsen late last year, when she was forced to shave off her signature blonde tresses. Her battle with cancer was documented in a NBC video diary that showed her frail figure writhing in pain from the incurable disease.
"I want to stay alive," Farrah said in the video diary. "So I say to God, because it is after all, in his hands, 'It is seriously time for a miracle.'"
Tributes from stars who knew and worked with Fawcett poured in Thursday just after the news broke.
"Farrah had courage, she had strength, and she had faith," said Jaclyn Smith, who starred in "Charlie's Angels" with Fawcett. "And now she has peace as she rests with the real angels."
Cheryl Ladd, who played Fawcett's younger sister on the top-rated show, remembered her co-star fondly..
"I'm terribly sad about Farrah's passing," Ladd said. "She was incredibly brave, and God will be welcoming her with open arms."
Co-star Kate Jackson said she "will miss Farrah every day...when you think of Farrah remember her smiling, because that is exactly how she wanted to be remembered."
"She was a selfless person who loved her family and friends with all her heart, and what a big heart it was," Jackson told People.com. "Farrah showed immense courage and grace throughout her illness and was an inspiration to those around her. When I think of Farrah I will remember her kindness, her cutting dry wit and, of course, her beautiful smile."
Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, Fawcett attended the University of Texas at Austin where she was an art major. She left for Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and quickly began securing work in commercials and appearing in television shows such as “I Dream of Jeannie,” “The Flying Nun,” The Partridge Family,” “Marcus Welby, MD,” and “McCloud,” among many others.
In 1976, she landed the role of Jill Munroe in the landmark Aaron Spelling series “Charlie’s Angels," starring alongside Kate Jackson and Smith as gorgeous detectives who worked as a team and reported to the title character, who was never seen on screen. Around the same time, an iconic poster of Fawcett wearing a red bathing suit and tossing back her luxurious tresses made her an international superstar.
In 1973, she married actor Lee Majors. They separated in 1979 and divorced three years later, but for a short time, while Majors starred in "The Six Million Dollar man," the husband and wife both had starring roles in hit TV shows.
Fawcett longed to be taken seriously for her acting, and would later earn critical acclaim for her role as a battered wife in the 1984 made-for-television movie “The Burning Bed.” Her performance earned her an Emmy Award nomination and her second Golden Globe nomination, but more importantly to Fawcett raised awareness of domestic abuse.
She continued to find work in various movie and television roles, including a 1989 television movie called “Small Sacrifices,” in which she starred alongside O'Neal portraying the true story of an Oregon woman who murdered her children.
In 1995, Fawcett received her star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 1995.