Mia Farrow (born February 9, 1945) is an American actress, singer and
former fashion model. Mia has appeared in more than forty films and won numerous
awards, including a Golden Globe award (and seven additional Golden Globe
nominations), three BAFTA Film Award nominations, and a win for best actress at
the San Sebastian International Film Festival. Mia is also notable for her
extensive humanitarian work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Her website
contains a guide on how to get involved with Darfur activism, along with her
photos and blog entries from Darfur, Chad, and the Central African Republic. In
2008, she was selected by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in
Mia was born Maria de Lourdes Villiers-Mia in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Australian film director John Mia and Irish actress Maureen O'Sullivan. Her sisters are Prudence and actresses Stephanie and Tisa. She has three brothers: Michael Namien (1939-1958), Patrick Joseph (1942-2009) and John Charles (born 1946). For the most part she grew up in Beverly Hills in Southern California, and often traveled with her parents for films that were produced on location. She made her film debut in a 1947 short subject with her mother; the short was about famous mothers and their children modeling the latest fashions for families.
Mia screen-tested for the role of Liesl von Trapp in The Sound of Music. That footage has been preserved, and appears on the fortieth Anniversary Edition DVD of The Sound of Music. Mia began her acting career by appearing in supporting roles in several 1960s films. However, she achieved stardom on the popular primetime soap opera Peyton Place as naive, waif-like Allison MacKenzie, a role she later abandoned at the urging of first husband Frank Sinatra. Her first leading film role was in Rosemary's Baby (1968), which was a critical and commercial success at the time and continues to be widely regarded as a classic of the horror genre.
Farrow's performance in Rosemary's Baby garnered numerous awards, including the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year - Actress, and established her as a leading actress. Film critic and author Stephen Farber described her performance as having an "electrifying impact… one of the rare instances of actor and character achieving a miraculous, almost mythical match. If Ira Levin's story shrewdly taps into every pregnant woman's fears about the stranger growing inside her, Mia Farrow gives those fears an achingly real and human force". Film critic Roger Ebert noted that "the brilliance of the film comes more from Polanski's direction, and from a series of genuinely inspired performances… The characters emerge as human beings actually doing these things. A great deal of the credit for this achievement must go to Mia Farrow, as Rosemary". Following Rosemary's Baby, Mia was to be cast as Mattie in True Grit and was keen on the role. However, prior to filming she made Secret Ceremony in England with Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Mitchum. Mitchum told her about director Henry Hathaway being rude to actresses. Mia asked producer Hal Wallis to replace Hathaway, Wallis refused. Mia quit the role which was given to Kim Darby. Secret Ceremony divided critics, but has gone on to develop a devoted following. Farrow's other late '60s films include John and Mary, opposite Dustin Hoffman.
In the 1970s, Mia appeared in a number of notable films, including the thriller See No Evil (1971), French director Claude Chabrol's Docteur Popaul (1972) and The Great Gatsby (1974), in which Mia played Daisy Buchanan. She also appeared in director Robert Altman's cult classic A Wedding (1978). Mia also appeared in a number of made for television films in the 1970s, most notably portraying the title role in a musical version of Peter Pan (1976). In 1979, Mia appeared on Broadway opposite Anthony Perkins in the play Romantic Comedy by Bernard Slade.
In the 1980s and early '90s, Farrow's relationship with director Woody Allen resulted in numerous film collaborations. She appeared in nearly all of Allen's critically acclaimed films during this period, including leading roles in Broadway Danny Rose, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Hannah and Her Sisters (playing the principal title role) and Alice (1990), again as the title character. Mia also played Alura, mother of Kara (Helen Slater), in Supergirl (1984) and voiced the title role in the animated film The Last Unicorn (1982).
Citing the need to devote herself to raising her young children, Mia worked less frequently during the 1990s. Nonetheless, she appeared in leading roles in several notable films, included the Irish film Widows' Peak (1994), Miami Rhapsody (1995) and Reckless (also 1995). She also appeared in several independent features and made for television films throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. She also wrote an autobiography, What Falls Away (New York: Doubleday, 1997).
Mia most recently appeared as Mrs. Baylock, the Satanic nanny, in the remake of The Omen (2006). Though the film itself received a lukewarm critical reception, Farrow's performance was widely praised, with the Associated Press declaring "thank heaven for Mia Farrow" and calling her performance "a rare instance of the new Omen improving on the old one." Filmcritic.com added "it is Mia who steals the show", and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer described her performance as "a truly delicious comeback role for Rosemary herself, Mia Farrow, who is chillingly believable as a sweet-talking nanny from hell."
Mia worked on several films released in 2007, including the romantic comedy The Ex and the first part of director Luc Besson's planned trilogy of fantasy films, Arthur and the Invisibles. In 2008, in director Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind, she appeared opposite Jack Black, Mos Def and Danny Glover.
Mia has been a high profile advocate for children's rights, working to raise funds and awareness for children in conflict affected regions, predominantly in Africa. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has worked extensively to draw attention to the fight to eradicate polio, which she survived as a child. She has traveled to Darfur three times to advocate for Darfuri refuges. She traveled there, in November 2004 and June 2006, joining her son Ronan Farrow, who has also worked for UNICEF in Sudan. Mia visited 2006 Berlin to be part of a charity auction of United Buddy Bears, which feature designs by artists representing 142 U.N. member states.
Her third trip was as part of a documentary film expedition in 2007. Farrow's photographs of Darfur appeared in People magazine in July 2006 and she authored an article on the crisis, published in the Chicago Tribune on July 25, 2006. On February 5, 2007, Mia authored an editorial for the Los Angeles Times. On August 7, 2007, Mia offered to "trade her freedom" for the freedom of a rebel leader, being treated in a UN hospital, but afraid to leave. She wanted to be taken captive in exchange for him being allowed to leave the country.
Since 2007, Mia has been involved with the Dream for Darfur campaign, which has made a major effort to focus public attention on China's support for the government of Sudan, with a special focus on the 2008 Summer Olympics, that was held in Beijing. Swayed by Farrow's campaign to pressure him, on February 12, 2008 filmmaker Steven Spielberg withdrew as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Olympics broadcast. During the Olympics broadcast, Mia televised via the internet from a Sudanese refugee camp to highlight China's involvement in the region.
Mia has recently agreed to narrate a documentary film relating the struggle of many of the survivors of the Rwandan Genocide to forgive those who murdered their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, children and friends. The documentary, presently in postproduction, is titled: As We Forgive Those.
Mia has set up her own website, www.miafarrow.org, which features a guide on how to get involved with Darfur activism, along with her photographs and blog entries from Darfur, Chad, and the Central African Republic.
The International Criminal Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on March 4, 2009, after which Sudan expelled 13 international aid agencies from Darfur. To raise awareness of this situation, Mia began a water-only fast on April 27. Mia's goal was to fast for three weeks. On May 8, after twelve days of fasting, she called a halt to the fast due to a downturn in her health.
Mia married singer Frank Sinatra on July 19, 1966, when she was 21 and he was 50. During the production of Farrow's 1968 film Rosemary's Baby, after she refused Sinatra's demand that she quit the film to work on his movie The Detective, he served her with divorce papers on the Rosemary's Baby set. The divorce was finalized in 1968 and was discussed in Jay J. Armes 1976 book.
Also in 1968, Mia traveled to India, where she spent the early part of the year at the ashram of the Maharishi in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, studying transcendental meditation. Her visit received worldwide media attention due to the presence of all four Beatles, Donovan, and Mike Love, as well as her sister Prudence Farrow, who inspired John Lennon to write the song "Dear Prudence".
In 1970, Mia married German-American Jewish musician André Previn. His former wife, songwriter Dory Previn, blamed Mia for the end of her relationship with Previn and wrote a scathing song, entitled "Beware of Young Girls", about the incident. Mia and Previn had three children of their own (twins Matthew and Sascha, born in 1970, and Fletcher, born in 1974). They adopted Vietnamese infants Lark Song and Summer Song ("Daisy") in 1973 and 1976, respectively, followed by the adoption of eight-year-old Soon-Yi from Korea around 1978. André and Mia divorced in 1979, but remained on good terms. Lark died on Christmas Day of 2008.
Beginning around 1980, Mia entered a twelve-year romantic relationship with film director Woody Allen, although they never married or lived together. Together they adopted Moses "Misha" Mia (born 1978, adopted 1980) and Dylan "Eliza" Mia (born c. 1985, now called Malone). In 1987 Mia gave birth to Satchel O'Sullivan Farrow, now known as Ronan Seamus Farrow. During their relationship, Mia starred in many of Allen's films, and several of their children also made appearances.
Mia and Allen parted after Mia discovered a sexual relationship between Allen and Farrow's adopted daughter Soon-Yi. During the subsequent custody battle involving Farrow's and Allen's three children, Mia filed charges that Allen had abused their daughter Dylan, then seven years old. Allen has adamantly denied the charges. A doctor concluded that Dylan "either invented the story under the stress of living in a volatile and unhealthy home or that it was planted in her mind by her mother" because Dylan presented the story inconsistently. The charges were dropped to avoid subjecting the child to a court trial, although a judge called Allen's conduct "grossly inappropriate". Mia ultimately won custody over the children. During the public fracas, Frank Sinatra allegedly contacted Mia with an offer to have Allen's legs broken, a courtesy Mia wrote of in her 1997 autobiography What Falls Away.
Mia has been estranged from Soon-Yi since Soon-Yi's 1997 marriage to Allen. Mia called the loss a "tragedy" in The Observer and remarked that "she's not coming back". Mia said of Soon-Yi: "She was on the streets in Korea when she was captured and brought to the state orphanage. And in a way I can see from her perspective — a very limited perspective — that she's improved her situation. For a little orphan kid from Korea ... Perhaps she's not to be blamed." In a widely circulated quote, Soon-Yi dismissed Mia as "no Mother Teresa".
Mia later adopted six more children, including Gabriel Wilk Farrow, adopted in 1995 and named after Elliott Wilk, the judge who oversaw Farrow's 1993 legal battle with Allen. Her adopted daughter Tam Mia died in 2000 at the age of 21, following a long illness. On Christmas 2008, she lost another adopted daughter, Lark Previn, who had been ailing for a decade; no cause of death was released.
Mia Farrow's award-winning sculptor brother Patrick Joseph Mia (November 27, 1942 - June 16, 2009), who was married to fellow artist Susan, committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in his art gallery, Mia Gallery, in Castleton, Vermont, United States.
Mia splits her time between a SoHo loft in New York City and an estate in Bridgewater, Connecticut.
Mia Farrow was portrayed by Nina Siemaszko in the CBS miniseries Sinatra.
This Mia Farrow Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub