Award-winning actress Mia Farrow became an overnight star after playing troubled teenager Alison MacKenzie (1964) in her TV acting debut, ABC's primetime soap opera "Peyton Place." She soon broke into the film scene after starring as the titular unsuspecting mother-to-be in Roman Polanski's now-classic chiller, "Rosemary's Baby" (1968).
With an acting career spanning over five decades, Farrow has starred in such films as "John and Mary" (1969), "Follow Me!" (1972), "The Great Gatsby" (1974), "Death on the Nile" (1978), "The Omen" (2006), "Arthur et les Minimoys" (2006), "Fast Track" (2006; aka "The Ex"), and "Be Kind Rewind" (2008). Farrow is also widely remembered for starring in many of Woody Allen's films in the 1980s and 1990s, including “A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy” (1982), "Zelig" (1983), "Broadway Danny Rose" (1984), "The Purple Rose of Cairo" (1985), "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986), "Alice" (1990), and "Husbands and Wives" (1992).
The first American actress to be accepted as a member of London's prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company, Farrow, daughter of film director/actor John Farrow and actress Maureen O'Sullivan, has acted in several Broadway productions, most notably opposite Anthony Perkins in Bernard Slade's "Romantic Comedy" (1979), and in a starring role in James Lapine's "Fran's Bed" (2005).
The 5' 4¼ waif-like thespian was featured on “People's” first published issue on March 4, 1974. She has been married twice, once to legendary actor/singer Frank Sinatra (1966-1968), who was 30 years her senior, and to famous composer André Previn (1970-1979). From 1982 to 1990, she was involved with acclaimed actor/director/writer Woody Allen, who would have an affair with one of her adoptive daughters and eventually marry her.
Farrow has fifteen children, in which eleven of them are adopted. She is active in agencies that encourage adoption and is also notable for her extensive humanitarian work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
Maria de Lourdes Villiers
Childhood and Family:
The daughter to Australian film director/actor John Farrow (born February 10, 1904; died January 28, 1963, of a heart attack) and Irish actress Maureen O'Sullivan (born on May 17, 1911; played Jane in several of the “Tarzan” movies; died on June 23, 1998, of a heart attack), Maria de Lourdes Villiers Farrow was born on February 9, 1945, in Los Angeles, California, and grew up primarily in Beverly Hills in southern California. She has three sisters, Theresa 'Tisa' Farrow (actress; born July 22, 1951), Stephanie Margarita Farrow (actress; born 1949), and Prudence Anne Farrow (producer; co-produced "Widow's Peak," born in 1948), and three brothers, John Charles Farrow (actor; born September 6, 1946), Joseph Patrick Villiers Farrow (born November 1943), and Michael Damien Villiers Farrow (born 1939; died in an plane crash in 1958). Her maternal grandparents are Charles Joseph O'Sullivan (a British officer) and Mary Lovett Fraser (maternal grandmother). Mia's godparents were gossip columnist Louella Parsons and famed director George Cukor.
Mia, who contracted Polio at the age of nine, attended Cygnet House, in London, England (1962) and the Marymount School, in Los Angeles, California. On July 19, 1966, when she was 21, Mia married popular singer and Academy Award-winning actor Frank Sinatra (born December 12, 1915; died May 14, 1998), who was 50 years old at the time. The marriage ended in divorce two years later in 1968 when Sinatra served her divorce papers in front of the cast and crew of "Rosemary's Baby."
Mia then married German-born Academy Award and Grammy Award winning composer André Previn (born April 6, 1929) on October 10, 1970. Previn's former wife, songwriter Dory Previn, blamed Mia for his leaving her and wrote a scathing attack in a song titled "Beware of Young Girls." With Previn, she has three biological children, Matthew Phineas Previn (born in 1970; twin of Sascha), Sascha Villiers Previn (born in 1970; twin of Matthew), and Fletcher Farrow Previn (born in 1974). They also adopted Soon-Yi Previn, (born in South Korea on October the 8th, 1970; adopted in 1978), Lark Song Previn, (born in Vietnam 1973; adopted 1973), and Summer Song Previn (also known as Daisy; born in Vietnam in 1975; adopted 1976). Mia and André Priven divorced in 1979.
“And I have the most wonderful children. I've been very, very blessed.” Mia Farrow
In 1979, Michael Caine introduced Mia to three-time Academy Award-winning film director, writer and actor Woody Allen (born December 1, 1935). The two were involved from 1980 to 1992 and made 13 movies together. Mia and Woody have one child together, Ronan Seamus Farrow (born in 1987; birth name Satchel O'Sullivan Farrow). They also adopted Moses Amadeus Farrow (also known as Misha Farrow; born in 1978; adopted in 1980), and Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow (also known as Eliza Farrow; current name is Malone). Allen reportedly began a relationship with Soon-Yi in 1990 and was later accused of molesting Dylan. Farrow cut off his contact with Soon-Yi in 1992 and after battles in court, Allen was eventually denied custody of his natural son and his adopted children Dylan and Moses. Allen later married Soon-Yi Previn in 1997.
Mia, who praised Angelina Jolie for adopting children in need of a good home, later adopted more children as a single mother, Tam Farrow (born in 1979; died in March 2000, of a heart ailment), Isaiah Justus Farrow (born in 1991), Quincy Farrow (now known as Kaeli-Shea; adopted in 1994), Frankie-Minh (born in 1991; adopted in 1995), Thaddeus W. Farrow (born in 1988; adopted in 1994, and Gabriel Wilk Farrow.
"I don't know if Angelina [Jolie] even knows my name, but I do think she's absolutely lovely and her good heart is there for all to see.” Mia Farrow
Having been a high profile advocate of adoption since the 1970s, Mia is active in agencies that encourage adoption. She has continued her activities as a special representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund and UNICEF and regularly visits Africa to promote the health and safety of children. She has also worked extensively to draw attention to the fight to eradicate polio. Recently, in February 2007 as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, she toured the Central African Republic and Chad to bring worldwide attention to those impoverished African countries. She has traveled to Darfur three times to advocate for refuges. She also launched a website called miafarrow.org, about Darfur activism.
Mia became involved with the transcendental meditation movement in the late 1960s and once traveled to India to study it.
Mia now splits her time between her spacious SoHo Loft in NYC's Greenwich Village and her estate/farm in Roxbury, Connecticut.
Born to a director/actor father and an actress mother, Mia Farrow made her film debut with her mother at age 2 in a 1947 short project about famous mothers and their children modeling the latest fashions for families. In the 1950s, she would appear in the Cold War educational film, “Duck and Cover.”
Farrow, who expressed an interest in becoming an actress while fighting polio at age nine, was sent to a convent school in London and made her film acting debut in a small part in a biographical epic film about the naval commander, "John Paul Jones" (1959; Robert Stack in the title role), which was directed by her father. In 1963, she appeared in a short project for “SEVENTEEN Magazine” called "The Age of Curiosity" and made her stage acting debut as Cecily in an Off-Broadway production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest."
The new comer became an overnight star after playing troubled teenager Alison MacKenzie (1964), who was smitten to Ryan O'Neal's character Rodney, in her TV acting debut, ABC's primetime soap opera "Peyton Place," which nominated her for Best TV Star - Female at the Golden Globes. She soon landed her first major film role in John Guillermin's film adaptation of Robert Holles' novel "The Siege of Battersea," "Guns at Batasi" (1964), with Richard Attenborough, Jack Hawkins, Flora Robson, John Leyton, and Cecil Parker.
After winning Golden Globe's Most Promising Newcomer – Female in 1965, she played the title role in the ABC TV remake of "Johnny Belinda" (1967), based on the play of the same name by Elmer Blaney Harris and appeared in print ads for Foster Grant Sunglasses.
1968 marked Farrow's breakthrough when she was offered the lead role in Roman Polanski's now-classic chiller, "Rosemary's Baby," which was adapted from a 1967 best-selling horror novel by Ira Levin. In the film, she also performed the song “Lullaby” that hit #111 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop charts in August of 1968. For her work in the film, Farrow was nominated for Best Actress at the BAFTA Awards and Best Motion Picture Actress - Drama at the Golden Globes. She also won a David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actress and a Laurel Award for Female New Face.
Following her big break, Farrow turned down the role of Mattie Ross in the now classic “True Grit” (1969; opposite John Wayne; a decision she now cites as the worst mistake she has made in her career) to star in Peter Yates's film version of Mervyn Jones' novel, "John and Mary" (1969; also starring Dustin Hoffman), which nominated her for Best Actress at the BAFTA Awards and Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy at the Golden Globes. She won Best Foreign Movie Performer at the 1970 Fotogramas de Plata and was nominated for World Film Favorite - Female at that same year's Golden Globes.
Afterward, she starred as a free-spirited American wife of a strait-laced British banker (played by Topol) in Carol Reed's film adaptation of Peter Shaffer's play, "Follow Me!" (1972), and won Best Actress at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. In 1974, she portrayed Daisy Buchanan in Jack Clayton's feature remake of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, "The Great Gatsby," opposite Robert Redford, and was featured on “People” magazine’s first published issue on March 4, 1974.
Farrow subsequently played title role in the NBC live-action musical version of the J.M. Barrie play, "Peter Pan" (1976), and had a supporting role as a murder suspect in John Guillermin's film based on an Agatha Christie mystery novel, "Death on the Nile" (1978), with Peter Ustinov as detective Hercule Poirot. On stage, she appeared on Broadway, opposite Anthony Perkins, in Bernard Slade's "Romantic Comedy," which was directed by Joseph Hardy and opened on November 8, 1979, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, where it ran for 396 performances.
Entering the new decade, Farrow made her first film collaboration with Woody Allen, "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy" (1982), which was loosely based on Ingmar Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night" and earned a Razzie Award for Worst Actress. She then won a Best Supporting Actress Award from the Kansas City Film Critics Circle for her turn as a psychiatrist who helps Allen's character with a strange disorder, in Allen's "Zelig" (1983) and delivered a brilliant turn as a gangster's girlfriend in Allen's black-and-white, Academy Award-nominated "Broadway Danny Rose" (1984), which nominated her for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical at the Golden Globes.
She also starred as a Depression-era wife in Allen's award-winning film-within-the-film, "The Purple Rose of Cairo" (1985), which nominated her for Best Actress at the BAFTA Awards and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical at the Golden Globes. She was then seen in Allen's Academy Award-winning romantic comedy film "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986; Barbara Hershey and Dianne Wiest played her sisters).
The 1990s saw Farrow receive critical praise for "Alice," Allen's loose reworking of Federico Fellini's 1965 film "Juliet of the Spirits." It earned Farrow a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical and won her the National Board of Review Best Actress award.
After embroiling in a prolonged and public custody battle with Allen over their three children, Farrow made her last film with Allen, "Husbands and Wives" (1992). Ironically, Farrow and Allen played a husband and wife in this movie and it debuted around the same time as their relationship ended.
Farrow then co-starred with Natasha Richardson in John Irvin's comedy "Widow's Peak" (1994) and starred in Norman René's film version of Craig Lucas' 1983 play, "Reckless." She also returned to TV and co-starred with Sam Waterston in the ABC Holocaust movie, "Miracle at Midnight" (1998) and starred as an administrative assistant for a group of attorneys in the CBS movie "Forget Me Never" (1999), which nominated her for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV at the Golden Globes. Meanwhile, her autobiography, "What Falls Away," was released in 1997 and became a bestseller.
In 2005, Farrow returned to Broadway in "Fran's Bed," a family drama by James Lapine. Recently, moviegoers could catch her as Mrs. Baylock, the Satanic nanny, in the remake of the 1976 suspense/horror film, "The Omen" (2006), which was directed by John Moore and released on June 6, 2006 (6/6/06) at 06:06:06 in the morning (number 666 is traditionally regarded as the "Number of the Beast"), and as the Granny in Luc Besson's part-animated, part-live action feature film adaptation of the 2002 children's book, "Arthur et les Minimoys" (2006; aka "Arthur and the Invisibles"), for both of which she was listed as a potential nominee by the 2007 Razzie Award nomination ballot.
She also appeared with Zach Braff, Amanda Peet and Jason Bateman in Jesse Peretz's romantic comedy "Fast Track" (2006; aka "The Ex"), and with Jack Black, Mos Def, and Danny Glover in writer/director Michel Gondry's sci-fi comedy "Be Kind Rewind" (2008).
Farrow is currently working on Luc Besson's two sequels of "Arthur and the Minimoys" (aka "Arthur and the Invisibles"), "Arthur et la vengeance de Maltazard" (aka "Arthur and the Vengeance of Maltazard"), which is planned for a 2009 release, and "Arthur et la guerre des deux mondes" (aka "Arthur and the War of Two Worlds"), which is set for a 2010 release.
National Board of Review, USA: Best Actress, “Alice,” 1990
Kansas City Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, “Zelig,” 1984
San Sebastian International Film Festival: Best Actress, “Follow Me!” 1972
Fotogramas de Plata: Best Foreign Movie Performer, 1970
David di Donatello: Best Foreign Actress, “Rosemary's Baby,” 1969
Laurel: Female New Face, 1968
Golden Globes: Most Promising Newcomer – Female, 1965