Most celebrities aren’t brands. Legendary icons are.
As agents for some of the most legendary icons in history, Omnicom’s Beanstalk agency created our own, informal, “Proust Questionnaire for Personality Brands” to examine how our notable clientele became icons in the first place and how we can help their loved ones frame their long-term legacies.
This month we’re focusing on Farrah Fawcett. Martin Cribbs (right), who heads Beanstalk’s Icon Representation business, spoke to Alana Stewart, an actress, model, and the President and CEO for our client, the Farrah Fawcett Foundation. Stewart was one of Fawcett’s closest friends and answered this month’s questionnaire.
Beanstalk represents the Farrah Fawcett Foundation for all commercial uses of Farrah Fawcett’s name, image, or likeness—either in advertising or on products.
Tell me what you do in relation to Farrah Fawcett.
I am the President and CEO of the Farrah Fawcett Foundation. Our mission is to raise money for cutting edge HPV cancer research, support patients in need, and to raise awareness about cancer prevention.
Why did you chose to work with the Farrah Fawcett Foundation?
Farrah was my close friend for many years. I was with her during her three-year battle with cancer that took her life. We traveled to Germany numerous times seeking alternative treatments. Farrah talked about what she wanted to do with the Foundation, which was to support cutting-edge cancer research and help others with cancer who didn’t have the resources to access treatment. She planned to run the Foundation herself and I was going to work with her. After she passed, I was asked to oversee and run the organization, which I was very happy to do, to carry on the memory and legacy of my friend.
Share five adjectives that best describe Farrah from your perspective.
Fun-loving, intelligent, caring, witty and down to earth
What was Farrah Fawcett’s greatest virtue?
Farrah was a very caring and compassionate person. She was genuinely concerned about the welfare of others. She liked helping people.
What about Farrah Fawcett distinguishes her from other iconic entertainers?
Farrah wasn’t a celebrity, she was an icon. The epitome of the All-American girl, she radiated wholesomeness and had an incredible sex appeal. She skyrocketed to fame almost overnight, and remained one of the most famous women in the world throughout her lifetime. Also, she was unique because she was admired by women and adored by men. Most importantly, Farrah was a cultural touchstone. Everything from her hairstyle that inspired a worldwide generation-long trend, to the famous poster that every young man in America had in their room, she defined an era.
What do you like about Farrah’s continuing presence in culture?
I like the fact that even though Farrah first became famous in the’70s, she is still so recognizable today. Her red swimsuit poster remains the highest-selling poster of all time and left such an imprint in our culture that it’s housed in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum. It’s worth noting that she chose to wear a one-piece bathing suit, modest for the time, which makes the success of the poster even more remarkable.
What does Farrah’s legacy do, right now, present tense?
Farrah’s legacy is not just her beauty, talent, and celebrity, but a larger part of her legacy is the Foundation that she created before she died. She planned to be part of this work but passed before she had the chance. Today, the Farrah Fawcett Foundation has its own clinical trial for those affected by HPV cancer, which, unfortunately, is on the rise. She would be proud to know that she contributed to this important work being done in her name.
Who or what contributes to Farrah’s ongoing, positive myth making and how does that story get told?
Whenever people learn I’m connected to Farrah and her Foundation, they tell stories of their connection. Women talk about her radiant beauty and amazing hair and how they tried to emulate her style. Men tell the story of the poster hanging in their bedroom and how they saw her as the perfect woman and were in love with her.
What is the primary message you want to impart to history about Farrah?
Personally, I think there will never be another Farrah Fawcett. She was wholesome, athletic, sexy, talented, and kind. We all see her with that gorgeous sun splashed hair and golden skin and yet those were just a part of what made her an icon. She was ground-breaking in the work she did. She left the security of a smash hit TV show to do more challenging work that included her critically acclaimed roles in The Burning Bed and Extremities – a role she also played Off-Broadway. She also became an advocate for women’s issues, including domestic violence. She didn’t want to be known just for her looks or acting but more as an artist generally. People don’t know that she was an incredibly talented sculptress and painter and often collaborated with other fine artists. She was truly gifted beyond her beauty.
When diagnosed with cancer she decided to use it as an opportunity to help others and make a difference in the world. What could be more important than that?