Old 50s 60s TV          

Mia Farrow - More than Just a Famous Haircut


By Felice Prager

As a young girl, I followed the plot of Peyton Place, not because the story interested me but because I was intrigued by the actress who played Allison MacKenzie - Mia Farrow. The prime time program that was based on a novel by Grace Metalious was an experiment for American television. For 1964, the content was much more risqué than Americans were used to and the storyline outwardly challenged American traditional values. In addition, scheduling a show - twice a week during prime time (Tuesday and Thursday nights) - with a continuing storyline was also new for ABC. At first, both proved to be highly successful.

My mother loved the show. Our dinners and homework assignments were completed early so she could watch her show while she ironed my dad's shirts. Having only one TV, which was the norm at that time, this show was what our family watched. I was permitted to stay up past my bedtime to follow the story of Allison MacKenzie, daughter of  unmarried Constance MacKenzie, as she became caught up in a romantic triangle with the wealthy, good looking Rodney Harrington (Ryan O'Neal) and Betty Anderson (Barbara Parkins) - the poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Though the novel, which my mother read and loved, had a sensational reputation and questionable moral tone, I guess my mother was ahead of her time in allowing me to watch with her. 

Mostly, what I remember is that Rodney married Betty because she was pregnant. Betty kept it a secret that she lost his baby before they were married. When Rodney Harrington found out about the deception, he left her and found true love with Allison MacKenzie. However, after that, Allison MacKenzie disappeared. At least that is how I remember it. There were other plots in the show, but since I only followed the Allison MacKenzie storyline, I lost interest after she left the series - especially because I found it more interesting to follow the real life story of Mia Farrow.

If Peyton Place was not sensational enough, the real story behind Allison MacKenzie's 
disappearance was even more exciting to my young mind and more controversial to the adults around me. Her disappearance occurred when Mia Farrow left the series in 1966 after her highly publicized marriage to Frank Sinatra. She was 21; he was 50. The tabloids were filled with gossip calling attention to the fact that as Frank Sinatra's new wife, she became the stepmother to Nancy, Tina, and Frank Sinatra, Jr., and that Frank Sinatra Jr. and Nancy Sinatra were older than their stepmother was.

Two years later, while filming Rosemary's Baby (1968) with director Roman Polanski, Frank Sinatra served Mia Farrow with divorce papers in front of the cast and crew, a move that supposedly came as a shock to Mia Farrow. 

As far as Peyton Place was concerned, it never fully recovered from Mia Farrow's departure. The writers tried to keep Allison alive with news of her whereabouts, and two years later a young woman appeared with a baby she claimed was Allison's, but the show was never the same. The prime time soap opera ran from 1964-1969.

What most mesmerized me about Mia Farrow in the early part of her career was her famous haircut. Before her marriage to Sinatra, she cut her long blond hair that went halfway down her back to less than a few inches in length. Her daring decision shocked and astounded her fans all over the world. Once again, I was intrigued. Reportedly, she cut her hair as an imitation of Julie Harris' hairstyle in the film, The Member of the Wedding (1952) and wore her pixie cut in the British spy melodrama, A Dandy in Aspic (1968) though there was speculation that she did it as a spiteful act toward Frank Sinatra. That is how my mother recalled it. However, on the March 11, 1997, on The Tonight Show, Mia Farrow told Jay Leno that she was "Mystified then and mystified now"
about all of the fuss the haircut attracted. She claimed she just wanted a change. I saw it as brave and daring. I saw it as exciting and wonderful.

Mia Farrow continued with her successful film career.

After her divorce from Frank Sinatra was finalized, she married pianist Andre Previn (1970) with whom she had three biological children and adopted three other children. In 
1979, she and Previn also divorced yet remained amicable.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, Mia Farrow was linked with Woody Allen although they never married or lived together. She met Woody Allen while filming his A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy in 1982 after which Woody Allen wrote many other roles specifically for her. They had one biological son together and adopted a son and daughter as well. They separated after many years of being linked as a couple when Woody Allen began a relationship with Farrow's adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, whom he later married. Their marriage reportedly left Mia Farrow devastated. During the custody battle, Mia Farrow filed child abuse charges against Woody Allen, involving her other daughter, Dylan. Those charges were later dropped, because the Connecticut state's attorney investigating the case found that, although probable cause existed, it was not worth 
subjecting the child to the possible trauma of a court trial.

Mia Farrow has been a high profile advocate of adoption since the 1970s, adopting children from poverty stricken regions, many of whom were deemed "difficult to place" due to biological handicaps. After her split with Woody Allen, Mia Farrow went on to adopt five additional children as their sole parent. Mia Farrow has fifteen children, eleven of them adopted. One adopted daughter (Tam Farrow) died in 2000 at the age of 21 after a long illness. Today, Mia Farrow and her family live in huge rent-controlled apartment building right next door to Manhattan's legendary Dakota apartment house, the apartment building that was used as the locale for Rosemary's Baby. The Dakota is also the building where her friend, John Lennon lived and the location in front of which John Lennon was shot to death. She also splits her time at her estate/farm in Roxbury, Connecticut.

Other interesting information about Mia Farrow:

Mia Farrow was born into a Hollywood family and grew up in Beverly Hills. She was born February 9, 1945, and was named Maria de Lourdes Villiers-Farrow. Her mother was actress Maureen O'Sullivan and her father was director John Farrow.

Her famous haircut cost $5000.

Her photo was on the first cover of People magazine.

She has six siblings. John Lennon of the Beatles wrote "Dear Prudence" about her younger sister, Prudence Farrow.

She auditioned unsuccessfully for the role of Liesl in The Sound of Music (1965).

She was the first American actress to be accepted as a member of London's Royal Shakespeare Company.

She is a UNICEF Special Representative.

Her godparents were gossip columnist Louella Parsons and director George Cukor.

Mia Farrow turned down the roll of Mattie Ross in the 1969 John Wayne film, True Grit. 
She calls this the worst professional decision of her life.

Mia Farrow and Liza Minnelli have been friends since childhood. Mia Farrow was one of 
Liza Minnelli's bridesmaids when she married David Guest in a lavish ceremony in 2002.

Mia Farrow was the voice of Unicorn/Amalthia in The Last Unicorn in 1982.

She made 13 movies with Woody Allen:
  A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)
  Zelig (1983)
  Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
  The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
  Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
  September (1987)
  Radio Days (1987)
  Another Woman (1988)
  Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
  New York Stories (1989)
  Alice (1990)
  Husbands and Wives (1992)
  Shadows and Fog (1992)

Her older brother (Mike) died in a plane crash while taking a flying lesson when Mia Farrow was 13. Her father died when she was 17.

She is quoted as describing her slender figure as "I'm kind of 20-20-20."

She has appeared in more than forty films and has won numerous awards including a Golden Globe.

She has also appeared on Broadway and in a number of made for television films.

She has co-starred with actors such as Dustin Hoffman, Anthony Perkins, Max von Sydow, Barbara Hershey Michael Caine, Carrie Fisher, Dianne Wiest, Laurence Harvey, John Cassavetes, Robert Redford, Bruce Dern, Karen Black, Carol Burnett, Lillian Gish, Peter Ustinov, Bette Davis - to name just a few.

She appeared with her mother, Maureen O'Sullivan, in the film Hannah and her Sisters in 1986

She wrote an autobiography, What Falls Away in 1997.

Write Funny! - http://www.writefunny.com
Felice Prager - http://www.feliceprager.com

more articles by Felice Prager

Go to Rewind the Fifties Home
















Rewind the Fifties and all related Pages copyright 1997 - 2008
Reproduction of content in whole or part is prohibited without permission.