Frances Farmer was an American actress and television host. She was born on September 19, 1912 in Seattle, Washington to Lillian and John Farmer. Her father was a lawyer and her mother was a homemaker. She had two sisters, Edith and Ruth. Frances attended the University of Washington where she studied drama.
Her career began in 1932 when she moved to Hollywood to pursue acting. She appeared in a number of films throughout the 1930s and 1940s including, The Toast of New York, The Farmer Takes a Wife, and Susannah of the Mounties. In addition to her film work, Frances also hosted her own television show, Frances Farmer Presents, from 1955 to 1956.
Frances married actor Leif Erickson in 1942. The couple had one daughter, Faith. They divorced in 1950. Frances married again in 1951 to actor William Bast. They had one son, Christopher. The couple divorced in 1957.
Frances died on August 1, 1970 at the age of 57.
August 1, 1970, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
University of Washington
Leland Mikesell, Alfred Lobley, Leif Erickson
Ernest Melvin Farmer, Cora Lillian Farmer
Edith Farmer Elliot
Come and Get It, Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake, Rhythm on the Range, The Toast of New York, The Party Crashers, Among the Living, Too Many Parents, South of Pago Pago, Border Flight, Flowing Gold, Badlands of Dakota, Ride a Crooked Mile, Ebb Tide, Exclusive, World Premiere
What they had me doing first was autographing copies of "Come and Get It" at the Bon Marche, where I had been fired a couple of years back. That was bad enough but think of me autographing a book written by somebody else. That took crust but it didn't turn out so badly because when I got to the store, about twenty people finally strolled in and look at me from a distance and kept their buying firmly in control. What the Goldwyn people had forgotten was that up that way I'm still remembered as the freak from West Seattle High.
[on Hollywood] It's a nuthouse. The other day, a man phoned and wanted me to endorse a certain brand of cigarettes. I had nothing against them and in fact will smoke them or anything else that comes along, but I didn't know why he was bothering me. I though maybe if I was nice, they'd give me a carton and a thank offering, so I rather tentatively broached the matter of remuneration. What was the endorsement worth, I asked, and he said three thousand dollars. What are you going to do in an atmosphere like that?
[on her reaction to her high school essay "God Dies"] It was pretty sad, because for the first time, I found how stupid people could be. It sort of made me feel alone in the world. The more people pointed at me in scorn, the more stubborn I got, and when they began calling me the Bad Girl of West High School, I tried to live up to it.
[on her experience as a mental patient] Never console yourself into believing that the terror has passed, for it looms as large and evil today as it did in the despicable era of Bedlam. But I must relate the horrors as I recall them, in the hope that some force for mankind might be moved to relieve forever the unfortunate creatures who are still imprisoned in the back wards of decaying institutions.
Attended and graduated from the University of Washington (1935).
Attended and graduated from West Seattle High School (1931).
Director Howard Hawks said he considered her the best actress he ever worked with.
For her very special tribute appearance on This Is Your Life (1952), Frances was given an automobile - an Edsel.
She inspired several literature works: "God's Peculiar Care" (1991) by Patrick Roscoe (from the title of Farmer's lost biographical novel), the thriller "The Canvas Prison" (1982) by Gordon DeMarco and the collection of short stories "Las fotografías de Frances Farmer" (1992) by Peruvian author Iván Thays.
Her rise and tragic fall were documented in the film Frances (1982) with Jessica Lange in the lead role. She received an Academy Award nomination for best actress for her performance.
She was the subject of the song "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle" in the 1993 album "In-Utero" by the grunge rock band Nirvana.
French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer chose her stage name in homage to Frances, and her first hit song, "Maman a tort", in 1984 was about the actress.
Singer Patterson Hood included the song "Frances Farmer" in his 2004 album "Killers and Stars", which features Farmer's picture on the cover.
Stephen Cush, a member of the British group "The Men They Couldn't Hang", wrote a song called "Lobotomy Gets 'Em Home" in memory of her after he saw the biographical film Frances (1982). The song appears on the album "Silvertown" on Silvertone Records.
"Frances Farmer My Hero--The Unauthorized Biography" is a rock opera based on the life of the tragic screen star.
Following her death, she was interred at Oakland Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Fishers, Indiana.
Special Agent 7
Frances Farmer Presents
The Party Crashers
Studio One in Hollywood
I Escaped from the Gestapo
montage sequence uncredited
Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake
Among the Living
Badlands of Dakota
South of Pago Pago
Ride a Crooked Mile
The Toast of New York
Come and Get It
Lotta Morgan / Lotta Bostrom
Rhythm on the Range
Too Many Parents
The Toast of New York
performer: "The First Time I Saw You" 1937
Come and Get It
performer: "Aura Lea" 1861, "The Bird on Nellie's Hat" 1906 - uncredited