In the end, Fawcett sought to offer more than that, re-emerging in the spotlight with a new gravitas.
In "Farrah's Story," which aired last month, she made public her painful treatments and dispiriting setbacks — from shaving her golden locks before chemotherapy could claim them to undergoing experimental treatments in Germany.
"Her big message to people is don't give up. No matter what they say to you, keep fighting," Alana Stewart, who filmed Fawcett as she underwent treatment, said last month. NBC estimated the May 15, 2009, broadcast drew nearly 9 million viewers.
In the documentary, she also recounted her efforts to unmask the source of leaks from her UCLA Medical Center records, which led a hospital employee to plead guilty to violating a federal privacy law for selling celebrities' information to the National Enquirer.
"There are no words to express the deep sense of loss that I feel," Stewart said Thursday. "For 30 years, Farrah was much more than a friend. She was my sister, and although I will miss her terribly, I know in my heart that she will always be there as that angel on the shoulder of everyone who loved her."
Other "Charlie's Angels" stars also paid tribute.
"Farrah had courage, she had strength, and she had faith. And now she has peace as she rests with the real angels," Jaclyn Smith said.
Said Cheryl Ladd: "She was incredibly brave, and God will be welcoming her with open arms."
Kate Jackson said she would remember Fawcett's "kindness, her cutting, dry wit and, of course, her beautiful smile. Today when you think of Farrah remember her smiling because that is exactly how she wanted to be remembered, smiling."
Fawcett became a sensation in 1976 as one-third of the crime-fighting trio in "Charlie's Angels." A poster of her in a clingy, red swimsuit sold in the millions and her full, layered hairstyle became all the rage, with girls and women across America mimicking the look.