Actress and incandescent beauty Farrah Fawcett, 62, died this afternoon at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., after a long battle with cancer.

Hers was the face that launched a million push pins. A poster of her in a red swimsuit, at once wholesome and lascivious, became required decor on the walls of boys' bedrooms across the country in 1976.

That inescapable image, along with her simultaneous debut in the hit TV series Charlie's Angels, rocketed the lithe Texan to overnight fame.

That overwhelming early fascination continued to follow and, at times, plague the fiercely private Ms. Fawcett until her death four decades later.

In her iconic pose, Ms. Fawcett was all coltish legs, dazzling teeth, and cascading blonde hair. (Her layered and frosted mane became a tonsorial fad, known simply as The Farrah.)

Ms. Fawcett's wall placard, which sold an unprecedented 12 million copies, became the most celebrated bathing suit poster since Betty Grable's.

In Charlie's Angels, she, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith played a trio of sexy undercover investigators for the never-seen Charlie. The unproven Ms. Fawcett was the final Angel cast, primarily to fill the group's blonde quotient.

Derided as "Jiggle TV," the show finished its inaugural season in fifth place in the ratings, besting The Six Million Dollar Man, the series starring Ms. Fawcett's then-husband, Lee Majors. (During her nine-year marriage to Majors, the actress worked as Farrah Fawcett-Majors.)

Ms. Fawcett left the show abruptly after one season, dissatisfied with her $10,000-per-episode salary and determined to find more challenging roles. After a contractual dispute, she was obligated for the next two years to make sporadic guest appearances on Charlie's Angels.

For the next decade, she developed her dramatic skills in a number of TV movies and miniseries. Her specialties were biopics (heiress Barbara Hutton and photographer Margaret Bourke-White) and true-crime sagas.

Ms. Fawcett received the best notices of her career in 1985 for her harrowing performance in The Burning Bed as a Michigan woman and mother of three, who, after years of physical abuse at the hands of her husband, immolated him as he slept.

The same year The Burning Bed aired, Ms. Fawcett gave birth to her only child, a son named Redmond. After her divorce from Majors in 1982, she had begun a tempestuous 17-year relationship with Hollywood bad boy Ryan O'Neal, Redmond's father.

Ms. Fawcett enjoyed another success in 1997, playing Robert Duvall's cheating wife in The Apostle.

She garnered an Emmy nomination, her third, in 2003 for a recurring role in The Guardian, starring Simon Baker.

Few had recognized Ms. Fawcett's acting potential when she arrived in Los Angeles at 21 after graduating from the University of Texas. For years, she was known as a sun-kissed sex kitten in TV and print ads, most famously in a shaving-cream commercial with Joe Namath that aired during the 1973 Super Bowl. That was before Charlie's Angels catapulted her to sudden stardom.

The three original Angels reunited for the first time at the 2006 Emmy Awards. A month later, Ms. Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer. After a round of chemotherapy, she was told the disease was in remission. She took a camcorder to her next oncologist appointment, in early 2007, and learned that the cancer had returned.

She began videotaping her grim, debilitating war with the disease, which had spread to her liver. The footage chronicled her ordeal, including trips to Germany for aggressive treatments. It resulted in the wrenching documentary Farrah's Story, which aired May 15 on NBC. In recent months, treatment was abandoned.

At the suggestion of Ms. Fawcett's doctor, her son was granted a furlough from jail in April for a three-hour visit with her. Redmond, 24, who has struggled with heroin addiction, was being held in Los Angeles on drug charges. He was brought to his father's home in Malibu (where she was staying) in shackles, which he and his father tried to hide from Ms. Fawcett.

A few days later, Ms. Fawcett wrote her own epitaph. When her father, James, 91, flew from Texas to see her, she passed him a note that, according to O'Neal, read: "I've loved and I've been loved. I'm happy. I'm ready."