Behind the camera: Bruce McBroom
Where: Farrah Fawcett’s home in Bel Air, California
Photo Summary: Farrah Fawcett in a red swimsuit
Picture Taken: Summer of 1976 poster released in Sept of same year
During World War II Betty Grable was the pin-up queen. After the war, the title was passed from various Hollywood bombshell to Hollywood bombshell but Farrah Fawcett ruled the 70’s. This poster which was released the same year as when she played Jill Munroe on the TV show Charlie’s Angels went on to sell a record 12 million copies making it one of the most famous pin-ups ever.
Pro Arts Inc.
Mike and Ted Trikilis dropped out of Kent State in 1967 to open an art gallery that sold posters. A shipment of anti-war posters soon became their number one breadwinner and so they sold the store and became the Pro Arts Inc. Ohio’s number one and only Distributor of Youth-Oriented Posters. They struggled for a few years but then a poster of the Fonz sold more than a quarter-million copies which bumped Pro Arts in the big leagues.
In April of 1976, Ted was working on his farm with the neighbor’s son Pat Partridge when Pat mentioned that if he running Pro Arts he would make a poster of Farrah Fawcett. He admitted that he and his friends had been buying women’s magazines just to get pictures of her from the Wella Balsam shampoo ads. Ted had never heard of Farrah but knew that if students were using ads of her then a poster would be a big seller. He soon got in touch with Fawcett’s agent Rick Hersh and tried to get a deal. After Ted finished talking Hersh was puzzled and asked, “What type of product is Farrah to be selling on the poster?” “We want to sell Farrah on the Farrah poster,” Ted explained.
Hersh passed the idea on to Farrah who thought it was “cute” and said she had a photographer she likes to work with.
Taking the picture
When the photo was taken Farrah Fawcett was still an unknown actress wanting to make it big. She hadn’t yet signed on for her hit show Charlie’s Angels but got some work doing commercials. Bruce McBroom a freelance photographer had worked with Farrah before and so Pro Arts agreed to hire him for the shoot. They wanted a bikini shot of the blond beauty.
The shoot was at Farrah’s Bel Air, Calif., home of her and then-husband, actor Lee Majors. She did her own hair and they took the photos behind the home by their pool. She modelled several different swimsuits but McBroom didn’t get excited about any of the pictures he shot. When she came down in the now famous red one-piece swimsuit to cover a childhood scar on her stomach McBroom knew he had something. For the backdrop McBroom grabbed the old Indian Blanket covering his car seat and hung it up, “I should have told people I styled this,” McBroom says, “but the truth is it came off the front seat of my ’37 Chevy.”
He took a number of shots, using his Nikon, including a sultry Farrah eating a cookie but Farrah chose the final frame that would make her one of the most famous people of the ’70s. In the early summer of ’76 McBroom sent a package of 25 shots of Farrah indicating which one Farrah wanted to use.
I’ve since heard that when the guy in Cleveland got the pictures, he went, “First of all, where’s the bikini?” He told me he wasn’t ever gonna pay me, because he hated the pictures. But I guess he showed them around to people in his business and they changed his mind. It was Farrah’s pose, Farrah’s suit, Farrah’s idea. She picked that shot. She made a lot of money for him and for herself, and made me semifamous.
McBroom was paid $1000 for the assignment but is happy to be associated with such a cultural icon. In 2006 on the 30th anniversary of the image, Fawcett said: “I was a little self-conscious [of the image], probably because my smile is so big, but it always more ‘me’ than any other photograph out there.”
[bigquote quote=”It was all Farrah” author=”McBroom”]
Legend has grown around Farrah’s prominent features and that she used ice but the photographer, McBroom has always dispelled the rumour saying, “It was all Farrah,”.
Farrah Fawcett (born Ferrah Leni Fawcett on February 2, 1947) in Corpus Christi, Texas to James William Fawcett and Pauline Alice Evans. She is the second of 2 daughters. Her older sister, Diane, passed away from lung cancer in 1998. As a child, Farrah displayed a natural athletic ability which her father encouraged. She was raised Roman Catholic. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority.
In 1976, Fawcett played the character of Jill Munroe for one year in the successful TV series Charlie’s Angels. She was paid $5,000 an episode but with the popularity of the poster earned $400,000 in royalties. She broke her contract and left the show after one season. As settlement to a lawsuit stemming from her early departure, Fawcett appeared six more times as a guest star in seasons three and four.
Fawcett went on to receive achieve critical praise and her first of three Emmy Award nominations as a serious actress for her role as a battered wife in the 1984 television movie The Burning Bed. She also won acclaim in the stage and movie version of Extremities, in which she played a rape victim who turns the tables on her attacker. She then played a predatory role in another miniseries, Small Sacrifices, receiving a second Emmy nomination. Her third Emmy nomination came in 2004 for her work in The Guardian. Fawcett has been nominated for several others awards as well including the Golden Globe Award and ACE awards.
Fawcett posed in the December 1995 issue of Playboy, which became the best-selling issue of the 1990s, with over 4 million copies sold worldwide. She later posed for the July 1997 issue, which also became a top seller.
Farrah Fawcett was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. At approximately 9:28 a.m., PDT on June 25, 2009, in the intensive care unit of Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California Farrah Fawcett lost her battle with cancer.
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