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The Original 'Charlie's Angels' All Had Cancer & Farrah Fawcett Lost Her Battle at 62 in 2009

Titi Dokubo
Nov 09, 2021
09:40 A.M.

"Charlie's Angels" was an ABC drama series that left its mark in world television history. At the end of five seasons between 1976 to 1981, 115 episodes had been broadcast.

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The three "angels" who kicked off the first season were Sabrina Duncan, Jill Munroe, and Kelly Garrett. These characters were played by Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Jaclyn Smith, respectively.

Jaclyn Smith was the only one who stayed for all five seasons. Years after the series ended, the original cast all suffered from cancer; unfortunately, Farrah Fawcett never recovered.

Jaclyn Smith, Kate Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett in an advert for "Charlie's Angels" on June 15, 1976 | Photo: Getty Images

Jaclyn Smith, Kate Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett in an advert for "Charlie's Angels" on June 15, 1976 | Photo: Getty Images

THE SHOW'S CURSE

Once the "Charlie's Angels" hit the screens, their successes were immediate, and the show was recognized as a cult series. The ladies were always ready to save the world, and this endeared them to more fans.

As always in the world of TV, the main roles are held by strangers who find themselves propelled to the rank of stars overnight. However, it seemed as though being an 'angel' had its downsides.

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Being stars took a toll on their private lives. The actresses all suffered a series of divorces as Smith and Jackson were divorced three times, while Fawcett encountered one divorce.

Jaclyn Smith, Kate Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett in an advert for "Charlie's Angels" | Photo: Getty Images

Jaclyn Smith, Kate Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett in an advert for "Charlie's Angels" | Photo: Getty Images

Besides having faced divorces, the ladies all had cancer. In 1988, Jackson underwent breast cancer treatment which they didn't fully treat, and in 1989, she had a partial mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

In 2003, Smith successfully recovered from breast cancer, and in 2010, she was featured in "1 a Minute," a documentary about breast cancer.

Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer, and she began treatment that included chemotherapy and surgery in 2006. On June 25, 2009, Fawcett lost her battle to cancer at 62.

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Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Jaclyn Smith in an advert for "Charlie's Angels" | Photo: Getty Images

Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Jaclyn Smith in an advert for "Charlie's Angels" | Photo: Getty Images

THE LIFE OF FARRAH FAWCETT

Despite having been only in the first season as a main cast member, Fawcett was the most famous angel. Her hairdo became a sensation among American women.

After leaving the show in its first season, she came back as a guest cast in its third and fourth seasons. The show also landed Fawcett her first Golden Globe nomination.

Fawcett added more movies and short films to her acting résumé. She was seen in films such as "The Burning Bed," "Nazi Hunter: The Beate Klarsfeld Story," and "Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story."

Portrait of actress Farrah Fawcett  | Photo: Getty Images

Portrait of actress Farrah Fawcett | Photo: Getty Images

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Her roles in these movies allowed her to receive Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Before she was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006, she starred in her reality show, "Chasing Farrah."

Fawcett's battle with cancer was long. After being declared cancer-free in 2007, she had a recurrence and was then diagnosed with stage IV cancer that had spread to her liver.

In search of a cure, she was also receiving alternative treatments in Germany. Being a star, her state of health interested both her fans and the tabloids worldwide.

Portrait of Farrah Fawcett in the early 70s | Photo: Getty Images

Portrait of Farrah Fawcett in the early 70s | Photo: Getty Images

During her later days, she documented her struggles with cancer, and it was aired in May 2009 as a prime-time NBC documentary called "Farrah's Story."

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Ten years after her death, Fawcett was honored by her friends and co-stars. Smith identified her as a beautiful and brave person.

Smith also recalled that Fawcett had only cried the day she called her to tell her of the diagnosis, and she never saw Fawcett cry again after that.

Farrah Fawcett in the Walt Disney Television "The Great American Beauty Contest" on February 13, 1973 | Photo: Getty Images

Farrah Fawcett in the Walt Disney Television "The Great American Beauty Contest" on February 13, 1973 | Photo: Getty Images

THE LIFE OF KATE JACKSON

Jackson starred in the "Charlie's Angels" series from season one to season three. Initially, she was the highest-paid actress because she had the most experience among the three.

Jackson was also credited as the one who changed the name of the series from "The Alley Cats" to "Charlie's Angels."

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She left the show because her contract made her give up the lead role in "Kramer vs. Kramer." She also revealed that she was tired of the show, and they were tired of her.

Kate Jackson on the set of "The Rookies" on April 6, 2008 | Photo: Getty Images

Kate Jackson on the set of "The Rookies" on April 6, 2008 | Photo: Getty Images

She appeared in many other series, including "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" between 1983 and 1987. She also starred in an episode of "Ally McBeal in 1997" and "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" in 2002.

In 2004, Jackson appeared in two episodes of "Third Watch" and in an episode of "Criminal Minds" in 2007, where she played the mother of agent Emily Prentiss.

Having overcome her ordeal with cancer in 1989, she had to undergo open-heart surgery in 1995 because of a congenital heart defect.

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Kate Jackson at the 2006 Primetime Emmy Awards | Photo: Getty Images

Kate Jackson at the 2006 Primetime Emmy Awards | Photo: Getty Images

In 2003, she received the "Power of Love" award from the American Heart Association because she had publicly spoken about breast cancer and raised awareness regarding cancer.

Since 2009, Jackson has not appeared in any movie or series. In May 2010, she sued her financial advisor, accusing him of having led her to bankruptcy. They reached an undisclosed settlement in December 2010.

Portrait of Kate Jackson in 1978 | Photo: Getty Images

Portrait of Kate Jackson in 1978 | Photo: Getty Images

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THE LIFE OF JACLYN SMITH

Even though she felt she was not at her best during the audition for "Charlie's Angels," Smith got the role that made her a star. She was also made to audition because she had little acting experience.

As the show's ratings began to drop drastically, ABC eventually had to cancel the show after five seasons, and Smith moved on to other series and movies.

In 1985, she was one of the first actresses to create a brand in her name — the first affordable clothing line for the Kmart chain. The clothing line was a hit.

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Kmart gave Smith unlimited freedom to create and design things that she would love to wear. She also saw a gap in the industry for good-looking clothing at a good price.

She has launched perfumes, hair treatments, furniture, decorative accessories, and more products under her name. Smith still produces wardrobe classics for millions of women.

In 2003, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After her recovery, she completely changed her lifestyle and diet by exercising regularly and eating healthy.

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Modest, enterprising, and always elegant, she never stopped acting despite her "diversification." In 1984, she got a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film for her role in "Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy."

She reprised her role in a cameo appearance as Kelly Garrett in the 2003 and 2006 "Charlie's Angels." In 2021, she was seen in an episode of "All American."

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