The Farrows of Hollywood: Their Dark Side of Paradise

Skyhorse. Mar. 2023. 312p. ISBN 9781510768833. $32.50. BIOG
Film journalist Moss (Raoul Walsh: The True Adventures of Hollywood’s Legendary Director) profiles the Farrow family and uncovers the masks behind their seemingly fairy-tale facade. Australian John Farrow (1904–63) arrived in Hollywood in the early 1920s and worked as a screenwriter. He later became a director of westerns, adventure stories, and film noir. In 1936, he married actress Maureen O’Sullivan (1911–98), who had a long career in Hollywood and was fondly remembered as playing “Jane” in a series of Tarzan films. They had seven children; at least five dabbled in acting with only one, Mia, achieving prolonged success. Behind the scenes, John Farrow earned an unscrupulous reputation in Hollywood as a notorious womanizer and a sadistic director on the set. Katharine Hepburn once called him the most depraved human being she’d ever met. He was deeply interested in Catholicism and wrote several books on the subject. Yet his obsession with religion conflicted with his social demeanor; his behavior reportedly traumatized his wife and children. Moss uses cognitive-theory principles to associate Mia Farrow’s childhood with her accusations later against Woody Allen for child molestation.
VERDICT Often repetitive, but nevertheless an immersing and compelling read about a renowned Hollywood family.
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