Seattle, Washington, USA
Place of Death
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
Hollywood Actress dehumanized by Insane Asylum
Full Name at Birth
Frances Elena Farmer
Actor/Actress, Soundtrack, Writer
Has Detailed Data (New)
Ernest Melvin Farmer
Lillian Van Ornum Farmer
Frances Elena Farmer (September 19, 1913 – August 1, 1970) was an American actress and television host. She is perhaps better known for sensationalized accounts of her life, especially her involuntary commitment to a mental hospital. Farmer began her career as a stage actress, performing stock theater in New York and later appearing on Broadway. She made her film debut in Too Many Parents (1936), and was subsequently featured in a starring role in the musical western, Rhythm on the Range (1936) opposite Bing Crosby, and The Toast of New York (1937) with Cary Grant.
Profile Bio Text
Frances Elena Farmer (September 19, 1913 – August 1, 1970) was an American actress of stage and screen. She is perhaps better known for sensationalized accounts of her life, and especially her involuntary commitment to a mental hospital. Farmer was the subject of two films, one television special, three books, and numerous songs and magazine articles.
Farmer was born in Seattle, to Ernest Melvin Farmer and Cora Lillian (Van Ornum) Farmer. In 1931, while attending West Seattle High School, she entered and won $100 from The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, a writing contest sponsored by Scholastic Magazine, with her controversial essay "God Dies". It was a precocious attempt to reconcile her wish for, in her words, a "superfather" God, with her observations of a chaotic and godless world. In her autobiography she writes that the essay was influenced by her reading of Nietzsche, who "expressed the same doubts, only he said it in German: "Gott ist tot." God is dead. This I could understand. I was not to assume that there was no God, but I could find no evidence in my life that He existed or that He had ever shown any particular interest in me. I was not an atheist, but I was surely an agnostic, and by the time I was sixteen I was well indoctrinated into this theory."
Although her father was a prominent lawyer, Farmer displayed independence through her work roles as an usherette in a cinema, a waitress, a tutor and a factory worker. Farmer used the money earned from such employment to pay for her university fees, before winning a popularity contest that rewarded her with a trip to Europe.
In 1935, as a student at the University of Washington, Farmer won a subscription contest for the leftist newspaper, The Voice of Action. The first prize was a trip to the Soviet Union—Farmer accepted the prize, despite her mother's strong objections, so that she could see the pioneering Moscow Art Theatre. Farmer's interest in such topics fostered speculations that Farmer was not only an atheist, but a Communist as well.
Farmer proceeded to study drama at the University of Washington (UW) and, during the 1930s, the university's drama department productions were considered citywide cultural events and were frequented accordingly. While a student at UW, Farmer starred in numerous plays, including Helen of Troy, Everyman, and Uncle Vanya. In late 1934, she starred in the UW production of Alien Corn, in which she spoke foreign languages and played the piano—the production received rave reviews and was the longest-running play in the drama department's history at the time.
Couple Profile Source
West Seattle High School
University of Washington
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