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Frances Farmer

Real name: Frances Elena Farmer
Birthdate: September 19, 1913
Status: Married
Partner: Leland Mikesell

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Biography

Frances Elena Farmer (September 19, 1913 – August 1, 1970) was an American film and theater actress.

Farmer also had an affair with Odets, but he was married to actress Luise Rainer and didn't offer Farmer a commitment. Farmer felt betrayed when Odets suddenly ended the relationship, believing he had used her drawing power to further the success of his play. She returned to Hollywood, and arranged with Paramount to stay in Los Angeles for three months out of every year to make motion pictures, freeing up the remainder of her time for theater activities. However, her two subsequent appearances on Broadway had short runs and she found herself back in Los Angeles, often loaned out by Paramount to other studios for starring roles. At her home studio, meanwhile, she was consigned to costarring appearances, which she often found unchallenging.

On October 19, 1942, she was stopped by the police in Santa Monica for driving with her headlights on bright in the wartime blackout zone that affected most of the West Coast. Some reports say she was unable to produce a driver's license and was verbally abusive. The police suspected her of being drunk and she was jailed overnight. Farmer was fined $500 and given a 180 day suspended sentence. She immediately paid $250.00 and was put on probation. By January 1943, she had failed to pay the rest of the fine and a bench warrant was issued for her arrest. At almost the same time, an assault charge was filed against her by a studio hairdresser who alleged Farmer had dislocated her jaw on the set of a low budget movie. The police traced her to the Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood and, getting no answer, entered her room with a pass key. They reportedly found her in bed (some stories include an episode involving the bathroom) and made her dress quickly. By all accounts, she did not surrender peacefully.

On March 23, 1950, at her parents' request, she was "paroled" back into her mother's care. Farmer's mostly ghostwritten autobiography bitterly stated that her parents needed her to take care of them in their old age. She took a job sorting laundry at the Olympic Hotel in Seattle, the same hotel where, in 1936, Farmer had been feted at the world premiere of Come and Get It. At the time Farmer is said to have believed her mother could have her institutionalized again. In 1953, ten years after her arrest at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood, a judge legally restored Frances Farmer's competency and full civil rights at her request.

In 1957, she met Leland C. Mikesell, an independent broadcast promoter from Indianapolis who helped her move to San Francisco and get work as a receptionist in a hotel, where he then arranged for a reporter to recognize her and write an article. This led to renewed interest. She told Modern Screen magazine, "I blame nobody for my fall... I think I have won the fight to control myself." She made two appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and also appeared on the This Is Your Life, during which she was asked about her alcoholism and mental illness. Farmer said she had never believed she was mentally ill and remarked, "if a person is treated like a patient, they are apt to act like one."



 


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