Monday, September 19, 2011

Frances Farmer, Margaret Lindsay, June Preisser, Gloria Talbott

Who was born on this date:

Actress Frances Farmer was born on September 19, 1913 in Seattle, Washington. She is best known for sensationalized and fictional accounts of her life, and especially her in voluntary commitment to a mental hospital.. Farmer was the subject of three films, three books, and numerous songs and magazine articles. Farmer signed her first film contract on her 22nd birthday with Paramount Pictures and moved to Hollywood. She had top billing in two well-received 1936 B-movies.

Farmer was not entirely satisfied with her career, however. She felt stifled by Paramount's tendency to cast her in films which depended on her looks more than her talent. Her outspoken style made her seem uncooperative and contemptuous. In an age when the studios dictated every facet of a star's life, Farmer rebelled against the studio's control and resisted every attempt they made to glamorize her private life. She refused to attend Hollywood parties or to date other stars for the gossip columns. By 1939, her temperamental work habits and worsening alcoholism began to damage her reputation.

On October 19, 1942, Frances Farmer was stopped by the police in Santa Moncia for driving with her headlights on bright in the wartime blackout zone. 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 and was put on probation. By January 1943, she failed to pay the rest of the fine and a bench warrant was issued for her arrest. At almost the same time, a studio hairdresser filed an assault charge alleging that Farmer had dislocated her jaw on the set. The police traced Farmer to the Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood. Getting no answer, they 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. At her hearing the next morning, she behaved erratically. She claimed the police had violated her civil rights, demanded an attorney, and threw an inkwell at the judge. He immediately sentenced her to 180 days in jail. She knocked down a policeman and bruised another, along with a matron. She ran to a phone booth where she tried to call her attorney, but was subdued by the police. They physically carried her away as she shouted, "Have you ever had a broken heart?"

Newspaper reports gave sensationalized accounts of her arrest. Through the efforts of her sister-in-law, a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles County, Farmer was transferred to the psychiatric ward of L.A. General Hospital. There she was diagnosed with "manic depressive psychosis.” Within days, having been sent to the Kimball Sanitarium in La Crescenta, Farmer was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. She was given insulin shock therapy, a treatment then accepted as standard psychiatric procedure. Her family later claimed they did not give their consent to the treatment, as documented in her sister's self-published book, Look Back in Love, and in court records. The sanitarium was a minimum-security facility. After about nine months, Farmer walked away one afternoon and went to her half-sister Rita's house, over 20 miles away. The pair called their mother in Seattle to complain about the insulin treatment.

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. There, Farmer sometimes received electro-shock treatment. Three months later, during the summer of 1944, she was pronounced "completely cured" and released. While traveling with her father to visit at an aunt's ranch in Reno, Nevada, Farmer ran away. She spent time with a family who had picked her up hitchhiking, but she was eventually arrested for vagrancy in Antioch, California. Her arrest received wide publicity. Offers of help came in from across the country, but Farmer ignored them all. After a long stay with her aunt in Nevada, Farmer went back to her parents. 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.On March 23, 1950, at her parents' request, Farmer was paroled back into her mother's care. From 1958 to 1964 Farmer hosted a successful TV show called Frances Farmer Presents which had the top audience ranking in its time slot throughout the program's run. She was also in demand as a public speaker. On September 19, 1970, Farmer died from cancer and is buried at at Oaklawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Fishers, Indiana.

Actress Margaret Lindsay was born on September 19, 1910 in Dubuque, Iowa. She was noted for her supporting work in successful films of the 1930s and 1940s such as Jezebel (1938) and Scarlett Street (1945) and her leading roles in lower-budgeted B-Movies. Perhaps Lindsay's finest film role was in The House of the Seven Gables (1940). Lindsay died at the age of 70 of emphysema on May 9, 1981 at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.

Who died on this date:

On September 19, 1884, actress June Preisser died. She was born on June 26, 1920 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her parents sent her to an athletic club at an early age, in an attempt to build her strength. There she, and her sister Cherry, learnt acrobatics. When Preisser was nine years old an actor noticed the two sisters performing acrobatics on a sidewalk near their home, and his interest in them eventually led to them working in vaudeville, and later for the Ziegfeld Follies in 1934 and 1936.

In the late 1930’s, June was signed to a contract by MGM and her first film was Dancing Co-Ed (1939). Her next film, Babes in Arms (1939), gave her a significant role opposite Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. She performed with Rooney and Garland again in Strike Up the Band (1940), and with Rooney in two "Andy Hardy" films, Judge Hardy and Son (1939) and Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941). Other notabel film credits include Gallant Sons (1940), Henry Aldrich for President (1941), and Sweater Girl (1942). Her final film was Music Man (1948), after which she retired from acting. On September 19, 1984, she was killed in car accident in Florida and is buried at the Atkins Cemetery, Blountstown, Florida.

On September 19, 2000, actress Gloria Talbott died. She was born on February 7, 1931in Glendale, California. She began film her career as a child actor in such films as Maytime (1937) Sweet and Lowdown (1943) and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945). She stopped acting following her marriage, and resumed after her divorce, having worked extensively in film and television. She worked on a regular basis in the 1950s, having appeared in Crashout (1955), We’re No Angels (1955) and All That Heaven Allows (1955). Talbott later became known as a scream queen after appearing in a number of horror films in the 1950s. She died on September 19, 2000 from kidney failure and is buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.

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