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Video: Remembering ‘Angel’ Farrah Fawcett

  1. Transcript of: Remembering ‘Angel’ Farrah Fawcett

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: And tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of Farrah Fawcett 's death. In a moment we're going to talk to Farrah 's longtime love Ryan O'Neal and her best friend Alana Stewart . But first, Fawcett 's heartbreaking battle with cancer. She is known for her pearly white smile, and her trademark winged hairdo was copied in salons across the country. Overnight Farrah Fawcett went from Texas beauty to Hollywood icon.

    VIEIRA: From the time she arrived in Los Angeles , Fawcett found work. But her big break came in 1976 when she landed the role of Jill Monroe on the hit show " Charlie 's_Angels." Along with fame came love, and for the next three decades she was involved in a tumultuous relationship with Hollywood hot shot Ryan O'Neal . The pair separated in 1998 but rekindled their romance in 2001 , after O'Neal was diagnosed with leukemia. But the biggest challenge was just around the corner . In 2006 Farrah was diagnosed with anal cancer . Her two and a half year fight played out in a documentary made by Fawcett and her best friend Alana Stewart called " Farrah 's Story."

    VIEIRA: The raw footage depicted Fawcett 's illness, chronicling her surgeries, treatments and the side effects of the chemotherapy. Sadly, on June 25th , at the age of 62, Farrah Fawcett lost her battle with cancer. The outpouring of love from family, friends and fans who paid tribute was a testimony to Farrah 's character. Talking to TODAY shortly after Farrah 's death, Ryan O'Neal spoke about what he would miss most.

    Mr. RYAN O'NEAL (Farrah Fawcett's Partner for More Than 20 Years): So much, Meredith . But her smile wasn't bad, it was beautiful. I'll take that.

    VIEIRA: Ryan O'Neal and Alana Stewart are with us now. Stewart is the author

    of "My Journey with Farrah: A Story of Life , Love and Friendship ." Good morning to you both.

    Ms. ALANA STEWART (Farrah Fawcett's Best Friend): Hi, Meredith . How are you?

    VIEIRA: Great to see you. Ryan , if I could start with you, the last time we spoke was about a month after Farrah passed away, and at the time you said, `I'm the new rock. I'm using what she taught me to survive, to go on.' So how are you doing?

    Mr. O'NEAL: Well, I -- it was brave talk. Harder than I thought. I miss her. We all miss her.

    VIEIRA: Your son Redmond was incarcerated at the time of her passing, he was dealing with felony charge -- drug charges. And at that time you told me, about a month after her passing, again, that he had a wonderful plan in mind to restore order in his life, `and he will, with my help.' So how is he doing today?

    Mr. O'NEAL: He's doing extremely well. I say that with pride. I'm extremely relieved and gratified by his progress in the last year. He is living in a sober living situation in Pasadena , and we see him all the time. And he's beautiful, and his mother would be proud of him.

    VIEIRA: Ryan , how much of this do you think, what's happened with Redmond and his ability to stay sober, has to do with that promise he made to his mom in those last few weeks of her life?

    Mr. O'NEAL: Well, I'm sure a great deal. I'm sure a great deal. He was thunderstruck to lose her. It really scared him and he turned his life around immediately, immediately. I've never seen such focus and a success. He's had great success. It was one little mistake, but he -- he's passed that. And he's in love. And he's going to go and see her grave site soon. He has not been there, he hasn't seen it yet.

    VIEIRA: Well, I know you told me at the time as well that he had said to you that he was unable to grieve when he was in the hospital. And you said to him -- I'm sorry, when he was in jail. And you said, `When you get out, we'll grieve together.' So he's still in that process.

    Mr. O'NEAL: Yes, he is. And we haven't done it together yet. I -- we do -- I know he grieves and I grieve, but we haven't really put our heads together. We thought maybe we should take a trip and do it that way, but that hasn't happened yet. He's not allowed to leave the state. He still has responsibilities to the -- to the state of California , and that will go on for another few months. And -- but he has good reports. He sees judge once a month and gets, you know, keeps getting it -- getting everything in order. Then we will go, and we have a lot to say to each other.

    VIEIRA: Yeah. Alana , you were Farrah 's best friend , and your journal chronicled the two and

    a half years that you spent together helping her battle cancer: the trip she took to Europe , the doctors that you meant, the treatments that she underwent. Can you believe it has been a year since her passing?

    Ms. STEWART: I can't believe it, Meredith .

    VIEIRA: Yeah.

    Ms. STEWART: I speak to her other close friends all the time and we always say the same thing, I can't believe a year has passed. It's hard to believe she's gone. She was such a powerful presence in all of our lives.

    VIEIRA: What is it about her that you miss the most when you think of her today?

    Ms. STEWART: I miss talking to her on the phone and laughing. I miss her sense of humor. She had the most amazing sense of humor. And I think her sense of humor was what got through -- her through that battle with cancer. You know, in the darkest time she would find something to laugh about. And all those trips to Germany , as brutal as some of them were, we found so many things to laugh about. She was a fun-loving person. You know, she liked to have fun. And everything was always more fun when she was there.

    VIEIRA: And I wonder how she would feel -- tomorrow you're opening the doors to the Farrah Fawcett Foundation . What do you hope to accomplish?

    Ms. STEWART: Well, I think she'd be very pleased with that because she started the foundation before she died and it meant a lot to her. And we're hoping to carry out her wishes. And she basically wanted to do something to fight this terrible disease. You know, she wanted to fund research for alternative methods of treatment.

    VIEIRA: She strongly believed in alternative methods. Yeah.

    Ms. STEWART: She did very much so, and she felt that there was a cure out there somewhere, you know, in some of these cutting-edge things that they're doing. And the kind of treatment that she had in Germany , I believe -- and I could be going out on a limb , but I still think that that was the most beneficial treatment that she had, and it kept her long -- alive longer than she would have been. And she wanted to help other people with cancer, which is why she did the documentary. You know, she shared that courageous struggle with everyone. And she wanted to help children with cancer, pediatric cancers.

    VIEIRA: Especially, yeah.

    Ms. STEWART: And -- yeah. And to look into the kind of cancer she had that a lot of research really hasn't been done in years. So I hope that we'll be able to do some really good things with the foundation, and I think she'd be proud of what we're doing.

    VIEIRA: Yeah. Ryan , when you think of Farrah 's legacy, what do you think? What do you think of?

    Mr. O'NEAL: Oh, I miss her cooking. I haven't had a good meal since she left me. You know, I live in the same home that we lived in together and so I see her silhouette, I hear her voice and it's -- I'm mixed, I'm mixed. In one way it's kind of wonderful she's still around, and the other way it hurts that not enough of her is to grab.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 6/24/2010 9:44:42 PM ET 2010-06-25T01:44:42

One year after the death of Farrah Fawcett, the actress’s longtime love, Ryan O’Neal, said he still feels the loss acutely. “I hear her voice, I see her silhouette,” he told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Thursday. “I miss her cooking.”

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But the actor takes consolation in the belief that Farrah would be proud of their son, Redmond, and how he has turned his drug-plagued life around.

“I’m greatly relieved and gratified by his progress in the last year,” O’Neal told Vieira via satellite from Los Angeles, the day before the first anniversary of Fawcett’s death from anal cancer. “We see him all the time, and he’s beautiful. His mother would be very proud of him.”

Time to grieve
However, there have been bumps along the road toward recovery for Redmond, who has been in and out of jail and rehab facilities in recent years for felony drug arrests. The 24-year-old’s last visit with his mother came weeks before her June 25, 2009, death after a three-year cancer battle: Authorities allowed him to visit his mother’s bedside, but only while bound in chains.

In late December, O’Neal was granted a furlough from his in-patient rehab, but when he returned, he admitted to counselors he had used drugs. He was put into a 30-day jail rehab facility.

Image: Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal
TODAY
Ryan O'Neal, Farrah Fawcett's longtime lover, said he's still living in the L.A. home they shared and imagines her presence there.
O’Neal told Vieira the backslide “was a little mistake” on Redmond’s part, but he’s since made progress and is living in a sober house in Pasadena, Calif. O’Neal says he looks forward to the day, hopefully this fall, when Redmond will be back at home and the pair can finally share their grief with each other in person.

“We haven’t done it together yet,” O’Neal told Vieira. “I know he grieves and I grieve, but we really haven’t put our heads together.

“We thought maybe we should take a trip and do it that way, but that hasn’t happened,” O’Neal added. “He’s not allowed to leave the state, and that will go on for another few months. But he has good reports, he sees a judge once a month, and keeps getting everything in order.”

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O’Neal said grieving on his own has been difficult. At the time of Fawcett’s death last year, he told TODAY: “I’m the new rock. I’m using what [Farrah] taught me to survive and go on.” But on Thursday he admitted it’s been difficult to live up to that.

“It was brave talk,” he said. “It’s harder than I thought. I miss her. We all miss her.”

Farrah’s legacy
O’Neal had been with Fawcett since 1982, although the pair never married. Today he continues living in the L.A. home they shared, and still imagines her presence there: “It’s kind of wonderful she’s still around, and in another way it hurts that not enough of her is.”

Image: Alana Stewart and Farrah Fawcett
TODAY
Alana Stewart lies on Farrah Fawcett's hospital bed before the actress's death.
As O’Neal spoke from L.A., Fawcett’s best friend, Alana Stewart, visited Studio 1A to discuss one of the actress’s legacies — the Farrah Fawcett Foundation to raise funds and awareness for anal cancer. Stewart told Vieira the foundation’s offices will open Friday, the anniversary of her death.

“I think she would be very pleased,” Stewart said. “It meant a lot to her, and we’re happy to carry out her wishes. She basically wanted to do something to fight this terrible disease. She wanted to fund research for alternative methods of treatment.”

During her long battle with cancer, Fawcett traveled with Stewart to Germany to seek alternative methods of treatment not approved in the U.S. Those treatments were featured in the two-hour NBC television documentary “Farrah’s Story,” which aired just days before Fawcett’s death at age 62.

Image: Alana Stewart, left, Ryan O'Neal, center, Farrah Fawcett
Alana Stewart, left, Ryan O'Neal, center, speak out on TODAY about Farrah Fawcett's death one year ago.

“She felt there was a cure out there somewhere, and in some of the cutting-edge things that they are doing, the kind of things she had in Germany,” Stewart told Vieira. “I still think that was the most beneficial treatment she had, and it kept her alive longer than she would have been.

“It’s hard to believe she’s gone,” Stewart told Vieira. “I miss talking to her on the phone and laughing. She had the most amazing sense of humor … Everything was always more fun when she was there.”

And O’Neal added that he misses his lover’s expertise in the kitchen. “I haven’t had a good meal since she left me,” he said.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: Farrah Fawcett

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  1. In bed together

    Farrah Fawcett, right, shares a scene with Raquel Welch in the 1970 film "Myra Breckinridge." It was Fawcett's first major film role. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Major life changes

    Fawcett, right, married actor Lee Majors in 1973. The next year, Majors debuted as Col. Steve Austin in the television series "The Six Million Dollar Man," in which Fawcett guest starred. The couple divorced in 1982. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. The blonde 'Angel'

    Fawcett, right, won fame on the television series "Charlie's Angels," in which she played a glamorous private detective along with Jaclyn Smith, left, and Kate Jackson. Fawcett's famous 'do was copied by women across the nation. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Poster girl

    In 1976, just as her career was taking off, Fawcett posed for this pin-up poster, which sold millions of copies and broke sales records. () Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A princely evening

    Fawcett, left, meets the Prince of Wales backstage at the London Palladium after the Royal show Supernight in London on April 9, 1978. Fawcett, who was married to Lee Majors at the time, was the emcee for the benefit event that raised funds for the United World College. (Bob Dear / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Out of this world

    Fawcett starred with Kirk Douglas in the 1980 film "Saturn 3." Despite Fawcett's topless scene, the film was a commercial flop. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Down, but not out

    Fawcett staged a comeback in 1984, earning critical praise when she portrayed a battered wife in the television movie "The Burning Bed." (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A new beau

    After her divorce from Lee Majors, Fawcett moved in with Ryan O'Neal. In 1985, they had a son together, Redmond O'Neal. (Rex Usa / Rex USA) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A taste of revenge

    In 1986, Fawcett starred in "Extremities" with James Russo. The movie is about a woman who takes revenge on a would-be rapist. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Losing her grip

    In 2000, Fawcett played Kate, the mentally unstable wife of gynecologist Dr. Sullivan Travis (Richard Gere), in Robert Altman's "Dr. T & the Women." (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Don't judge me

    Fawcett, with actor Charlie Sheen, portrayed Judge Claire Simmons on four episodes of the television series "Spin City" in 2001. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. One big happy family?

    Ryan O'Neal, center, and Fawcett arrive with their son Redmond at the premiere of "Malibu's Most Wanted" at the Chinese Theater on April 10, 2003, in Los Angeles. Ryan O'Neal had a role in the series. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Still cookin'

    Fawcett had a role in 2004's "The Cookout." (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. No joke

    In August 2006, Fawcett took part in the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner. Two months later, the actress announced that she was battling cancer. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. 'Angels' reunite

    Fawcett joins former "Charlie's Angels" co-stars Kate Jackson, left, and Jaclyn Smith, right, onstage at the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Aug. 27, 2006, in Los Angeles. (Vince Bucci / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Mother and son

    Farrah Fawcett and her son Redmond O'Neal share an embrace in a scene from "Farrah's Story," a personal look at her battle with cancer. Shot with her own home video recorder, the film chronicles the actress' two and half year battle with cancer. It aired on NBC on Friday, May 15. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. In treatment

    In a scene from "Farrah's Story," Fawcett consults with a health careworker while receiving treatment in Germany in 2008. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Serving as an example

    Farrah Fawcett decided to do the film "Farrah's Story" because she wanted to serve as an example whose health battle would offer a lasting effect — especially in the areas of protecting patient confidentiality and promoting alternative treatments for cancer. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
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