Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith, and Farrah Fawcett truly became famous after their portrayal of police officers turned private detectives. Charlie’s Angels debuted its first season in 1976 and has gone on to become a world-renowned name. 1976 was also the year that Fawcett’s famous red swimsuit poster was released, catapulting her into immense media coverage. Perhaps even more than her fellow co-stars.
The show was incredibly successful after the first season, so many people were shocked to learn that Fawcett would not be returning. The reasons were among a few different ones; financial, creative, and other personal things.
Farrah Fawcett leaves ‘Charlie’s Angels’ after just one season
Fans may be shocked to learn that Fawcett was only paid $5,000 per episode. That was actually half of what her co-star Jackson was making. Fawcett was the face of all the merchandise and yet she only received 2% of the merchandising income. She was in line for a raise by the next season to $10,000 per episode, but it was rumored she wanted $75,000.
The actress also really wanted to make movies. In 1977, she shares with the Washington Post, she wanted to make a “picture with real woman’s emotions.” Co-star Smith confirms that Fawcett “wanted to do features instead of a series.” As a result, she and then-husband Lee Majors would create Fawcett-Majors Productions to produce their own films.
Money, creative growth, and personal life matters come into play
Fawcett also had a lot of desire for creative growth. She told Washington Post, “I want them to start showing she’s had some hard knocks, too, and cries, and is sad,” referring to her character on the show. “Who’s gonna care about her if all she does is say, ‘Ooo! This week I get to play the hooker?'” Fawcett recognized at one point, “When the show got to be No. 3, I figured it was our acting. When it got to be No. 1, I decided it could only be because none of us wears a bra.” Fawcett then decided that by staying with the show, it would not be fulfilling for her creatively.
Her then-husband Majors even encouraged her to quit the show. There were likely even marital concerns going on in the background as Fawcett often had long hours of work both during the week and on the weekends. “I was working very hard, I wasn’t pleased with the hours,” she admitted. As this put a strain on her marriage to Majors, he advised that she leave Charlie’s Angels to make movies.
She may have even wanted a break
Other reports suggest that Fawcett may have wanted a break from the fame and limelight. “I felt uncomfortable when all of a sudden I got more attention and fan mail than Jaclyn Smith or Kate Jackson,” she tells PEOPLE in 1981. “I felt them change, not outwardly, but inwardly. We never had any arguments, but I felt a little barrier.”
She also says in 1984, “I became successful before I was ready for it or knew what I was doing. The success came before I had done what I thought was a good role. I knew that if I was going to stay in the business I had to change and I wanted to change.”