Frances Farmer

Born Sep 19, 1913

Frances Elena Farmer was an American actress of stage and screen. She is perhaps better known for sensationalized and fictional accounts of her life, and especially her involuntary commitment to a mental hospital. Farmer was the subject of three films, three books, and numerous songs and magazine articles.… Read More

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1913 Birth Farmer was born Frances Elena Farmer on September 19, 1913 in Seattle, Washington, the daughter of Lillian (née Van Ornum 1873-1955), a boardinghouse operator and dietician and Ernest Melvin Farmer, a lawyer. … Read More


1929 15 Years Old In the fall of 1929, when Frances was sixteen, Lillian and Ernest divorced, and Lillian relocated to a cottage in Bremerton, Washington.
1931 17 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1931, while a senior at West Seattle High School, Farmer entered and won $100 from The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, a writing contest sponsored by Scholastic Magazine, with her controversial essay "God Dies". … Read More


1934 20 Years Old In late 1934, she starred in the UW production of Alien Corn.
1935 21 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1935, Farmer won a subscription contest for the leftist newspaper, The Voice of Action. … Read More
She had top billing in two well-received 1936 B-movies, Too Many Parents and Border Flight.
1937 23 Years Old 1 More Event
However, Farmer was sympathetically described in a 1937 Collier's article as being indifferent about the clothing she wore and was said to drive an older-model "green roadster".
1938 - 1940 3 More Events
1941 27 Years Old In mid-1941 Clifford Odets attempted to lure her back to Broadway to star in his upcoming play Clash by Night, but she refused, telling him she thought she needed to stay in Hollywood to rebuild her career. … Read More
1942 28 Years Old 1 More Event
Meanwhile, her marriage to Erickson had disintegrated and ended in divorce in 1942.
1943 29 Years Old By January 1943, she failed to pay the rest of the fine and a bench warrant was issued for her arrest. … Read More


1944 30 Years Old Farmer moved back in with her parents in West Seattle, but she and her mother fought bitterly. Within six months, Farmer physically attacked her mother. Her mother then had Frances committed to Western State Hospital at Steilacoom, Washington.Three months later, during the summer of 1944, she was pronounced "completely cured" and released. … Read More
1945 31 Years Old At her mother's request, at age 31, Farmer was recommitted to Western State Hospital in May 1945 and remained there almost five years, with the exception of a brief parole in 1946.
1950 36 Years Old On March 23, 1950, at her parents' request, Farmer was paroled back into her mother's care. … Read More
1953 39 Years Old In 1953, at her own request, 10 years after the arrest at the Knickerbocker Hotel, a judge legally restored Farmer's competency and full civil rights.


1954 40 Years Old After a brief second marriage to utility worker Alfred H. Lobley, in 1954 Farmer moved to Eureka, California, where she worked anonymously for almost three years in a photo studio as a secretary/bookkeeper.
1957 43 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1957, Farmer met Leland C. Mikesell, an independent broadcast promoter from Indianapolis who helped her move to San Francisco. … Read More
Through the spring of 1958, Farmer appeared in several live television dramas, some of which are preserved on kinescope; the same year, she made her last film, The Party Crashers, produced by Paramount and described by one writer as "a crappy B-movie about wild teenagers and stupid adults".
1959 45 Years Old Shortly after, she found herself sitting in St. Joan of Arc Catholic church and petitioned that very day to begin her instructions and in 1959 was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith. … Read More
1963 49 Years Old The former couple's divorce was finalized in Indianapolis in 1963. … Read More


1964 50 Years Old By 1964 her behavior had turned erratic again. … Read More
1965 51 Years Old Farmer's last acting role was in The Visit at Loeb Playhouse on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, which ran from October 22 to October 30, 1965.
In the years following Farmer's death in 1970, her treatment at Western State was the subject of serious discussion and wild speculation. … Read More
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