The red swimsuit that helped make “Charlie’s Angels” actress Farrah Fawcett a 1970s icon became part of the Smithsonian’s collection Wednesday on what would have been her 64th birthday.
Fawcett’s longtime companion Ryan O’Neal presented the swimsuit and other items to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington. O’Neal said Fawcett, who died in 2009 after battling anal cancer for several years, always intended to give the suit to the museum.
“They asked her years ago for the bathing suit,” he said. “So it was always in her plan.”
Fawcett wore the bathing suit for a photo shoot shortly before her debut on Charlie’s Angels in 1976. The resulting poster sold millions of copies and became the best selling poster of all time, according to Smithsonian curator Dwight Bowers. Bowers compared the poster to World War II pinups of Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth, saying it became a symbol of the 1970s era.
Though fans know the bathing suit as red, it is actually a burnt orange color, possibly due to fading. Before it was donated to the museum, Fawcett framed it herself, and it was stored at a Los Angeles warehouse, O’Neal said.