Three weeks after Farrah Fawcett died, she earned the fourth Emmy nomination of her career, as executive producer of "Farrah's Story." The documentary detailed her courageous but ultimately losing battle against cancer. Viewers who tuned in to the May 15 special on NBC saw up close the valiant struggle of this onetime "Charlie's Angels" star.
Fawcett's death was announced June 25 just hours before the end of voting to determine the nominees for this year's Emmy Awards. Television's highest honor eluded this small-screen icon, who earned three acting Emmy nominations during her three-decade-plus career.
"Farrah's Story" was one of 43 shows in competition for the final five slots on the Emmy ballot for outstanding nonfiction special. It will now compete against "The Alzheimer's Project: Momentum in Science" (HBO); "Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist" (ABC), "102 Minutes That Changed America" (History), and "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" (HBO).
HBO and PBS documentaries have dominated this category over the years. The winner will be announced Sept. 12 during the Creative Arts Emmys hosted by Kathy Griffin and airing in an abbreviated version on E!
Fawcett's longtime friend Alana Stewart helped produce the intimate, two-hour special and is listed as one of the five Emmy nominees. As Stewart told People in May, "It was never meant to be a documentary. Farrah just took her little hand-held camera to the doctor one day." In a twist of fate, it was during that 2007 doctor's visit when Fawcett was told her cancer had come back.
She had been diagnosed with anal cancer the previous year and thought she had beaten the disease. With conventional treatments no longer working, Fawcett went to Germany to pursue alternative therapies. Fawcett became an outspoken advocate for early detection and treatment of colorectal cancer, and she worked tirelessly to raise the profile of this disease. And by documenting her own struggles in such graphic detail, she made millions aware of the need for testing and research.
Also listed among the nominees is executive producer Craig Nevius, who gave Gold Derby an exclusive, in-depth interview in mid-May to explain why he was suing to regain control of the project. He said Farrah Fawcett wanted the program to be presented in a diary format — not in the traditional documentary mode with talking heads, as was used — emphasizing urgent medical and legal issues that got downplayed in the final telecast.
Today, he sent Gold Derby the following e-mail: "Unfortunately, Farrah is not here to appreciate the result of her bravery and creativity. But fortunately her 92 years young father is here to bask in the glow of his daughter's honor. When I shared the good news with him this morning, he demonstrated his usual dry wit and asked: 'Is there any way for me to take credit for this?' I told him he could take all the credit. Because he gave the world Farrah. He and Mrs. Fawcett were delighted.'"
Among those appearing in "Farrah's Story" were Fawcett's onetime "Charlie's Angels" costars Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith. Farrah received the first of her six Golden Globe nominations for the first season of "Charlie's Angels" in 1977 and won the People's Choice Award as favorite newcomer that year.
However, it would not be until 1985 that she earned her first Emmy nod playing a real-life woman who fought back against domestic violence in "The Burning Bed." Though Fawcett lost that Emmy race to Oscar champ Joanne Woodward for "Do You Remember Love," she won over TV critics impressed by her acting ability. Fawcett was forever proud of that role and was seen in "Farrah's Story" telling hospital workers she thought of that and her role in "Extremities" – in which her character battled a rapist – as the highlights of her career.
In 1989, she starred opposite longtime love Ryan O'Neal in the miniseries "Small Sacrifices." For her work portraying a real-life murderous mother, she picked up a second Emmy nod, losing to Barbara Hershey for "A Killing in a Small Town." In the first half of this decade, Fawcett appeared in multiple episodes of "Spin City" and "The Guardian," earning her third Emmy nomination for her acclaimed turn on the latter in 2003. She lost that race to Emmy darling Alfre Woodard, who played a defendant on "The Practice."