TODAY | June 24, 2010
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 .
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.