Here she comes, straight down the middle of the sidewalk on New York’s Columbus Avenue, her body wrapped in a faux leopard coat and her feet in heels high enough to give normal women a nosebleed. Only five feet four inches tall and maybe a hundred pounds, with hair like spun sugar and a little rump about the size of a grown man’s hand, Morgan Fairchild is such a spectacle that even the most jaded New Yorkers stop dead in their tracks to take her in.
“Oh, honey, thank you,” she purrs as I open the door for her at an Italian restaurant. She takes a seat by the window. People outside pretend to study the menu posted by the front door so they can keep staring at her. When the waiter arrives, Fairchild lifts her pointy nose, lowers her eyelids halfway over her pale blue eyes, and gives the waiter her world-famous look—the one that is simultaneously bone chilling and sexually thrilling. Trust me on this. If you are a male, and you are the recipient of “the look,” you don’t know if she’s going to slit your throat or drag you off to bed.
“I’ll have a Coca-Cola,” says Fairchild. “With a straw.”
The waiter just stares at her. I stare at her. Half of New York seems to be staring at her, which is baffling, because this is exactly the kind of woman New Yorkers are supposed to despise: a high-maintenance blonde, a glitzy glamour queen, a television actress who looks as if she came from—yikes!—Dallas, that city of hair spray and pink Escada outfits.
Dallas, of course, is exactly where she came from. In the same way that Sissy Spacek of Quitman reminds us of every small-town Texas sweetheart we have ever known and Farrah Fawcett of Corpus Christi has been our symbol of the wholesomely sexy campus beauty queen, 46-year-old Morgan Fairchild has spent almost three decades representing the chic, dangerous vixen from the city.
After being introduced to the American public in the early seventies as the college-student-turned-murderess Jennifer Pace Phillips on CBS’s daytime soap Search for Tomorrow, Fairchild has played a variety of high-class vamps and tramps, sirens and supershrews, trollops and hot tomatoes. In the eighties you couldn’t turn on a prime-time soap without seeing her staring coldly at a rival or getting undressed with another woman’s husband. And just when you thought television was moving on to a new generation of Melrose Place-style hussies, Fairchild made a splashy return, accepting a million-dollar offer from ABC to appear as media mogul Sydney Chase on a new daytime soap, The City, which premiered earlier this year. In the promo for the show, she is seen stepping out of a helicopter as the announcer says, “Give us your poor, your tired, your wretched,” to which Fairchild, dressed in all-white Versace, snaps, “And please get them out of my way.”
So far, her work on The City has landed her some of the best reviews of her career. The New York Times called her “smart, gorgeous, and of course venomous if need be.” The review added that she had created a character in Sydney Chase who was likely to become