by sixties

sharon-farrell-1If I thought Diane McBain had a harrowing life that she wrote about in Famous Enough, it does not compare to what her 1960s contemporary Sharon Farrell revealed that she went through in her fascinating memoir Sharon Farrell “Hollywood Princess” From Sioux City, Iowa: The “Bad Girl’s” Story. First the simularities: both are pretty blondes who were two of the most promising starlets of the 1960s; both had one son from short-lived marriages; both saw their chances for super stardom fade away; both did drugs; and both were rape victims. But for every horrible incident that befell Diane McBain, Sharon Farrell’s was even worse.

As someone who loves reading (and writing) about the back stories in making movies or TV shows, Sharon does not disappoint with her career highlights such as Marlowe with Bruce Lee; The Reivers with Steve McQueen; The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang with Jack Palance; Out of the Blue with Dennis Hopper; The Stunt Man with Peter O’Toole; and her stint as a regular on Hawaii Five-0 during its last season. However, most are unhappy experiences and depressing to read as she is used and degraded (physically and/or psychologically) by practically every leading man and then tossed away once filming stops. She gets credit for not holding back and depicting herself in a very unflattering manner, but as you keep turning the pages you just hope she finds happiness. Instead the drug taking and sexual abuse by many hideous men continues and also because she foolishly binds herself to a man who took so much advantage of her stealing her money and forcing her to relocate to Fiji. Finally free of him and back in the States, Sharon finds herself committed to a psycho ward in California, which is really hard to read considering what she was put through.

What is most amazing to me despite the living hell she was going through in the 1970s and 1980s, is that she worked pretty consistently and got some really good parts well into her forties doing better than her more stable 1960s contemporaries for sure. This was due to her acting talent and her professionalism on the set despite what was happening to her off-camera.

Though Sharon highlights her major films/TV shows, her body of work is tremendous and I would have liked to have read more about them and less of the sex/drug tales she shares. Being self-published, the book is at times a bit disjointed and contains misspelling and such. Even so, I still recommend the book to fans of Sixties actresses and the New Hollywood of the late 1960s (let’s hope actresses in the Golden Age of Hollywood weren’t treated this shabbily). The fact that Sharon Farrell survived all she did and is still alive to tell about it is a testament to her strength and courage. Kudos to Sharon for persevering.

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John Black July 29, 2014 - 12:47 am

I’m enjoying reading the Diane McBain book, so doubtless I’ll order a copy of Farrell’s book when I’ve finished McBain.

Tom, if you could choose a particular lady to write her memoirs, whom would you select? Of the sixties starlets, I think I’d pick Chris Noel. Arline Sax/Arleen Martell would be another of my choices. I’m sure there would be many others. I’d love to see a book about/by Judy Strangis, although she really wasn’t a glamor girl. She left show business because of a stalker, so her book would have some dark content.

sixties August 13, 2014 - 2:50 pm

Chris Noel has written a number of books about her life especially in Vietnam. Sadly, Arlene Martel just passed away. Didn’t know that about Judy Strangis.

John Black August 14, 2014 - 10:05 pm

Wow, had no idea that Chris Noel had written books! I’ve just ordered a couple.

I see that she has written a few paperbacks about filming specific films and shows. I wonder if she will ever write “Filming THE TORMENTORS”? Probably not.

sixties August 15, 2014 - 11:37 am

Her first book from the early 1990s, whose title I cannot remember but the subtitle was The War That Jane Never Saw, was really good. Don’t see it on Amazon so must be out of print.


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