“Farrah was relentless in her fight,” Smith tells PEOPLE of her late costar’s decision to go public with her cancer battle and launch The Farrah Fawcett Foundation to raise money for research and education.
“Who would have dreamed that this girl who was known for the smile and the hair and the glamour would open up the depths of her soul to share with the world?” Smith says of Fawcett, who died at age 62 on June 25, 2009.
Smith remembers the day Fawcett first told her she had cancer.
“She said, ‘I always thought I might get breast cancer or heart disease but never this’ and she started to cry,” recalls Smith. “I never saw her cry after that.”
- PEOPLE’s special edition celebrating the life of Farrah Fawcett is on sale now on Amazon and wherever magazines are sold
Their decades-long friendship, along with fellow Charlie’s Angels costar Kate Jackson, was cemented early on.
“We had each other’s backs,” says Smith, 73, of their days on the set. “It was like a college dorm, eating in our trailers together. Sometimes we’d shop on weekends for what we were going to wear. We were not just actresses working, but girlfriends and it remained that way for 40 years.”
“When Farrah decided to leave after one season, we all supported her,” says Smith of Fawcett’s decision to leave the show in 1977. “She wasn’t afraid to say, ‘This is what I’m gonna do.’ Farrah wanted to be seen as a serious actress. She marched to her own drum. And once she was accepted as an actress, she went back to Playboy and posed at 50 years old. From a serious actress to a sex symbol again. There was never a boring moment.”
Looking back on the show, she says, “It changed our lives. We were sorta like rock stars. When we went to Hawaii for the season opener, we had guards around the clock. We all went on to do our thing, but the power of Charlie’s Angels — it helped define who we were and where we went.”
Towards the end of Fawcett’s life, the two grew even closer.On one of their final visits, Smith says: “Farrah brought me a German chocolate cake she’d made. Then I found her in my closet. Her legs were swollen [due to her treatment] but she wanted to try on a pair of my shoes. She was a true girlfriend.”
On their last visit, Smith visited Farrah at her apartment in Los Angeles. “She was in pain and couldn’t stay still,” Smith recalls. “I was rubbing her feet, trying to make her feel better. And that relaxed her. We must have talked for three hours about our lives, about our children, about growing up in Texas. The time I spent with Farrah at the end was the best because we appreciated the friendship.”
Looking back, she says, “What I remember about Farrah is that as much of an eight-by-10 glossy as she was, she was the friend who cheered me on, the girl who loved her parents, the girl down the street.”
“Together, we shared the ups and downs of life, of happiness and sadness,” says Smith, who is now focusing on a wide array of business ventures, including a new skin care line.
“I miss her every day,” says the one-time Angel. “A lot of people are gone now and that’s hard. I miss them and it’s okay to miss them.”