Farrah's swimsuit donated to museum

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Actor Ryan O'Neal waves goodbye to Farrah Fawcett's red swimsuit at the Smithsonian's Museum in Washington (AP)

The red swimsuit that helped make Charlie’s Angels actress Farrah Fawcett a 1970s icon has become an exhibit at the world’s largest museum on what would have been her 64th birthday.

Farrah’s long-time companion, Ryan O’Neal, presented the swimsuit and other items to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington.

O’Neal said Farrah, who died in 2009 after battling cancer for several years, always intended to give the swimsuit to the museum.

“They asked her years ago for the bathing suit,” he said. “So it was always in her plan.”

Farrah wore the swimming costume for a photo shoot shortly before her debut on Charlie’s Angels in 1976 and the resulting poster sold millions of copies and became the best-selling poster of all time, according to Smithsonian curator Dwight Bowers.

Mr Bowers said the poster became a symbol of the 1970s era.

Though fans know the bathing suit as red, it is actually a burnt orange colour, possibly due to fading. Before it was donated to the museum, Farrah framed it herself, and it was stored at a Los Angeles warehouse, O’Neal said.

Also donated to the Smithsonian were Farrah’s book of scripts for the first season of Charlie’s Angels, a 1977 Farrah Fawcett doll and a Farrah’s Glamour Centre styling kit for creating her signature hairdo. The items will be part of the museum’s popular culture history collection and will go on display this summer.

Farrah’s friends and family were at the museum for the donation, including her son with O’Neal, Redmond O’Neal, and O’Neal’s daughter, Tatum O’Neal.

Ryan O’Neal, who was filled with emotion during the ceremony, said later he feels Farrah’s presence every day. “I’m still having trouble with losing her,” he said.

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