11 March 2010

Farrah's Story : How Could the Academy Forget Her?

Survivors remember...
How could the Academy forget Farrah?

By Jody Schoger / The Rag Blog / March 11, 2010

American icon and Emmy-award winning actress Farah Fawcett was notably absent in the traditional memorial included each year as part of the annual Academy Awards ceremony, which aired last Sunday. Roger Ebert, writing on Twitter, quickly noted, "No Farrah Fawcett in the memorial tribute? Major fail."

Major fail is right. From a purely historical standpoint, based on the length or her career and her social impact, she should have been there, along with Bea Arthur.

But perhaps the omission is as it should be. Like icons before her (Marilyn Monroe comes to mind) Ms. Fawcett did not seem like part of Hollywood, or even of Hollywood. In both cases, separating the woman from the image became as intriguing as the image itself.

In the real world I think Ms. Fawcett was an incredible artist who unintentionally saved her best public work until last.

She gave the most extraordinary gift of her intelligence, grace and spirit in Farrah's Story, the no-holds-barred documentary that chronicled her struggle with the cancer that prematurely ended her life last summer. Both she and Michael Jackson died on the same day.

In 2006 Ms. Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer, one of those cancers people don't talk about very much, if at all. In the last 30 years its incidence has risen by 78% in women, according to an article in US News & World Report. While only one in 640 women will be diagnosed with anal cancer over the course of their lifetime, not even half of anal cancers are detected early, when they are most easily treated.

The fact that this engaging woman, who fought on many fronts to retain her privacy, chose to let us in on this last chapter of her life certainly says more than I can. Farrah's Story shows us a rare courage and also the unflinching nature of enduring friendship and love. Alana Stewart is by her side filming through treatments, illness, laughter, and tears. If you've had cancer, you know what these moments feel like. Of all the moments shared, one of my favorite is one all of us can identify with: the two friends cooking dinner and laughing in the kitchen.

When the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences decided "that we can't include everybody" in their "memoriam," they rendered the rest of the segment meaningless.

So to Ms. Fawcett? What a life you lived. Thank you.

[Jody Schoger is a writer, public relations consultant, and cancer advocate who lives in the Woodlands near Houston. He blogs at Women with Cancer.]

Farrah Fawcett. Photo from Getty Images.

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