Farrah Fawcett passed away on this day 10 years ago at the age of 62. She was the first pop culture phenomenon of the Gen X era.
As we have stated before, we consider the Gen X era to be from the mid-seventies to the mid-nineties. For first wave Gen Xers, this covers middle childhood in the mid and late seventies, late childhood and teen years/ college in the eighties and college and young adult life in the early and mid-nineties.
So with that being said, it really is the mid-seventies when older Gen X kids are starting to be aware of the culture around them. Charlie’s Angels debuted on ABC in the fall of 1976. The show was an instant hit and the most talked about new show of the year. Besides Fawcett, the show also starred Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith as a trio of beautiful private eyes who work for a mysterious boss named Charlie whose face you never see on screen. All three actresses become household names, but with the success of the show and an iconic poster in millions of young men’s bedrooms, Fawcett is the standout star of the show. It also doesn’t hurt that she is married to Lee Majors who stars as The Six Million Dollar Man, also on ABC.
Many folks would think that Star Wars would be the first pop culture phenomenon of the Gen X era, but that movie did not come out until May of 1977. That is the reason why we consider Farrah as our generation’s first pop culture phenomenon.
Happy Birthday to Lee Majors, who played two of the greatest TV characters in the Gen X era. Lee was born on April 23, 1939 in Wyandotte, MI.
Long before there was a Stone Cold Steve Austin, Majors portrayed Col. Steve Austin on The Six Million Dollar Man in the seventies on ABC. Austin was an Astronaut who was severely injured during a crash and was rebuilt with bionic implants that gave him super speed, super strength in his right arm, and an eye with a zoom lens and infrared vision.
He came back in the ’80s as a Stuntman who also did some part-time work as a bounty hunter on The Fall Guy which also aired on ABC. Let’s also not forget that he was married to Farrah Fawcett during her time on Charlie’s Angels when she was a cultural phenom in the mid-seventies.
Click the image to watch the first episode of The Fall Guy via Amazon Prime.
At 11:30 pm on Friday, April 11, 1980, ABC premiered their own version of Saturday Night Live. It was simply called Fridays and aired for three seasons. At the time of the premiere, SNL was a little over a month away from ending their fifth season. This would also be the last season that featured members from the original Not Ready for Primetime Players.
Unlike SNL, Fridays did not have a house band. The show also embraced the New Wave music scene more so than SNL. Their musical guest ranged from Devo, The Cars, and Split Enz to The Marshall Tucker Band, Kiss, and Paul McCartney.AC/DC, The Clash, and The Stray Cats all made their American TV debuts on Fridays.
The sixth season of SNL was met with bad reviews and low ratings. The next few seasons started an upward rise again with Eddy Murphy joining the show and becoming a breakout star. Fridays rode high until ABC expanded NightLine to five nights a week and pushed the start time to midnight. The show was canceled on April 23, 1982.
Laverne and Shirley premiered on ABC in January of 1976. The show was a spin-off of Happy Days and aired right behind it at 8:30 pm as part of the network’s powerhouse Tuesday night lineup. By the third season, it was the number one show in the nation. In the fall of 79, the show was moved to Thursdays at 8 pm up against The Waltons and Buck Rogers in the 21st Century. The ratings went down and before the end of the season, the show was moved back to Tuesday night. Ratings went back up but they never again reached the levels that it had before the move.
In season 6, The setting of the show was moved from Milwaukee to California. Cindy Williams left the show after two episodes in season 8. ABC wanted to renew the show for a ninth season but Penny Marshall wanted to move the production base to New York City but ABC canceled the show in May of 1983.
Laverne and Shirley were without a doubt one of the signature shows of the seventies. If you have never seen an episode before or you have not watched it in a few decades, go check out, but we suggest the earlier seasons when the girls were still in Milwakee.