Farrah Fawcett flashback: The sexy poster that made her an icon

Farrah Fawcett

back in the '70s.

I think of it now hearing Fawcett's long-time love,

Ryan O'Neal

, tell how the "Charlie's Angels" star has lost all of those lush, golden locks to cancer.

O'Neal told People magazine that Fawcett is now bed-ridden; other news outlets have reported that family is gathering at her bedside.

If you looked closely at that poster, which Fawcett posed for in 1976, you could make out the letters SEX formed in her hair. I always wondered if that was purposeful.

That poster sold a record 12 million copies, making it one of the most famous pin-ups of all time.

The Cleveland Scene wrote a great piece a few years back detailing the story behind the poster.

Read it here.

The story goes that brothers

Mike Ted Trikilis

dropped out of Kent State in 1967 to open an art gallery that sold posters. When a shipment of anti-war posters became their top-seller, they sold the store and became Pro Arts Inc., Ohio's top distributor of youth-oriented posters.

In April 1976 a friend of Ted's told him how he and all his male buddies were buying women's magazines just to get pictures of Fawcett's Wella Balsam shampoo ads. If I were you, the friend, said, I'd make a poster of her.

Light bulb!

Ted didn't know who Fawcett was at the time - she hadn't yet landed the "Charlie's Angels" role - but figured if guys were going to such lengths just to get her picture, they'd buy posters of her, too. He contacted Fawcett's agent

Rick Hersh

, who didn't seem to grasp the concept.

"What type of product is Farrah to be selling on the poster?" he wanted to know.

"We want to sell Farrah on the Farrah poster," Ted explained.

Freelance photographer

Bruce McBroom

had worked with Fawcett before, so Pro Arts agreed to hire him for the shoot. They wanted a bikini shot, but Fawcett chose the red one-piece swimsuit to cover a childhood scar on her stomach.

They shot the photo by the pool at the Bel Air, Calif. home she shared with her husband at the time, actor Lee Majors, TV's "The Six Million Dollar Man."

She did her own hair for the shoot. The backdrop is an old Indian blanket the photographer was using to cover the seat of his old Chevy.

One shot that didn't make the cut: Farrah munching on a cookie.

In the end, she chose the pose used for the poster.

And what a wise decision it was.

| Lisa Gutierrez, The Star