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 Frances Farmer

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Frances Farmer

Actress. Born in Seattle, Washington, the daughter of Lillian Cora and Ernest Farmer, a lawyer. She worked her way through the University of Washington where she studied journalism and drama. In 1935, a Paramount Pictures scout, arranged a screen test for her that resulted in a seven-year contract with the studio. She debuted in 'Too Many Parents' (1936), which was quickly followed by the musical 'Rhythm on the Range' later that year. She was suddenly the studio's up and coming starlet, and before the year was out, and was loaned to MGM for 'Come and Get It.' She married actor Leif Erickson that same year. In 1937, she did summer stock in New York state and starred in the Broadway production of 'Golden Boy.' She was then loaned to RKO Pictures for 'The Toast of New York' (1937), even as she developed a reputation for being difficult. Within two years, erratic behavior, often blamed on a growing drinking problem, made her less sought after, although she did appear in appear in such films as 'Flowing Gold' (1940), 'Among the Living' (1941), and what would become her last major feature, 'Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake' (1942). 1942 saw her marriage end in divorce, her Paramount contract canceled, and that October, she was arrested for drunkenness. When she failed to pay a fine, she was arrested again, and after a physical confrontation with the officers, was transferred to the psychiatric ward of LA General Hospital, where she was diagnosed a manic depressive (bipolar). She was then transferred to a minimum security hospital where she was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic and involuntarily subjected to insulin shock therapy. She finally walked out of the hospital and was allowed to move to Seattle and into her mother's custody. It was an unhappy settlement, and after six months, she was committed to Western State Hospital for the rest of 1944. Two other commitments followed, one for several months in 1945 to 1946, and another from April 1946 to March 1950. An account of her confinement including many stories of abuse. Upon release, she sued for her independence from her mother's custody. She then worked as a bookkeeper at a photo studio for several years. In 1957, she granted an interview to 'Modern Screen' magazine, reviving interest in her. It led to appearances on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' and 'This Is Your Life.' She also returned to the stage, performing in a summer stock production of 'The Chalk Garden.' In 1958, she became the host of 'Frances Farmer Presents' an anthology series which ran for six years; however, her return to heavy drinking led to her dismissal. After a struggle, she lived quietly for the remainder of her life, succumbing to esophageal cancer at age 56. After her death, a ghost-written biography 'Will There Really Be A Morning?' was published in 1972. A second, heavily fictionalized biography, 'Shadowland,' was released in 1978; the more salacious contents of which were largely debunked. Edith Farmer Elliot self-published the most authoritative biography of her sister in 1978, 'Look Back in Love.' A feature film 'Frances' starring Jessica Lange as Farmer was released in 1982. It was followed by a made for television movie 'Will There Really Be a Morning?' the following year. In 1993, the band Nirvana, released the song 'Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle.'

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1482
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Frances Farmer (19 Sep 1913–1 Aug 1970), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1482, citing Oaklawn Memorial Gardens, Fishers, Hamilton County, Indiana, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .