After a promising early career in Hollywood, she became a homeless addict – but never gave up hope

By Tim Nudd
Updated February 19, 2015 12:00 PM
Credit: Everett

June Fairchild, an actress whose show business story was as strange – and often, as tragic – as any in Hollywood, has died at 68.

Fairchild passed away Tuesday at a convalescent home in Los Angeles from liver cancer, the Los Angeles Times reports.

While not a household name, Fairchild rose quickly in Hollywood early in her career, earning numerous small parts and sharing the screen with the likes of Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges in 1974’s Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, directed by Michael Cimino. (See one of the movie’s scenes here – Fairchild plays Gloria.)

She was also known for a memorable role in Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke, in which she played a druggie who snorted Ajax soap powder.

Unfortunately, Fairchild’s real-life struggle with drugs and alcohol derailed her acting career – she didn’t make a movie after 1978 – and left her, at times, homeless and living on L.A.’s Skid Row.

She danced at clubs, tried rehab several times, and was robbed and raped while living on the streets. By 2001, she was selling newspapers to get by – and spent time in jail for failing to complete community service after a DUI conviction.

That prison stint helped her get clean, however. She spent the past few years staying in small rooms in downtown L.A. hotels and living off Social Security disability payments.

Despite her difficult life, Fairchild always looked on the bright side, according to friend Jim Freyler.

“June was an eternal optimist with a positive spin on whatever life threw her way. She was a down to earth human being with no airs about herself and had a terrific sense of humor and a huge zest for life,” Freyler wrote in a tribute this week.

“By her own admission she had a good life in spite of its ups and downs I, as well as many, will miss her terribly.”