in the trailer for the film Havana Widows (1933)
June 30, 1904|
Enid, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Died||May 1, 1971
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Thomas Richards (1921–1929)
Dr. Henry Ross (1941–1971)
Glenda Farrell (June 30, 1904 – May 1, 1971) was an American film actress.
Farrell came to Hollywood towards the end of the silent era. Farrell began her career with a theatrical company at the age of 7. She played the role of Little Eva in Uncle Tom's Cabin. She paused at times to continue her education but appeared with a number of theatrical companies and in several Broadway productions.
Warner Brothers signed her to re-create on film the role she played in Life Begins on Broadway. Farrell worked on parts in twenty movies in her first year with the studio. She came to personify the wise-cracking, hard-boiled, and somewhat dizzy blonde of the early talkies, along with fellow Warner Brothers brassy blonde, Joan Blondell, with whom she would be frequently paired.
Her brassy persona was used to great effect in Little Caesar (1931) opposite Edward G. Robinson, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) opposite Paul Muni, Havana Widows (1933) with Blondell, Gambling Ship (1933) opposite Cary Grant, Bureau of Missing Persons (1933) opposite Pat O'Brien, Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) opposite Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray, and The Big Shakedown (1934) with Charles Farrell and Bette Davis.
She became one of Warner Brothers’ most prolific actresses of the 1930s, solidifying her success with her own film series, as Torchy Blane, "Girl Reporter". In this role, Farrell was promoted as being able to speak 400 words in 40 seconds. Farrell would portray Torchy Blane in seven films, from 1937 to 1939. (Lola Lane played the role once in 1938, and Jane Wyman took it over for the final Torchy film, in 1939.)
When her Warner Brothers contact expired in 1939 she opted to focus on her stage career once again. She said that working in plays gave her more of a sense of individuality whereas in films, "...you get frustrated because you feel you have no power over what you're doing."
Farrell went out of vogue in the 1940s but made a comeback later in life, appearing in Secret of the Incas (1954), the Charlton Heston adventure epic upon which Raiders of the Lost Ark was based a quarter century later, and winning an Emmy Award in 1963, for her work in the television series Ben Casey. She made a guest appearance in the 5th season of the television series Bonanza in the role of Lulabelle 'Looney' Watkins as she was helping out the character of Hoss. This Episode of Bonanza was entitled The Pure Truth and it aired on March 8th, 1964. She was appearing on Broadway in Forty Carats in 1969 when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She remained with the show until ill health forced her departure in November 1970.
Glenda Farrell has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to Motion Pictures, at 6524 Hollywood Boulevard.
Farrell was born to Charles and Wilhelmina "Minnie" Farrell of Irish and German descent in Enid, Oklahoma, and she had two brothers named Richard and Gene. Her son with her first husband Thomas Richards was B-Western "sidekick" actor Tommy Farrell. She dated Hollywood film writer Robert Riskin in the early 1930s and married Jack Durant of the Mitchell and Durant vaudeville team in June 1931. In 1941 Farrell became the wife of Dr. Henry Ross, a West Point graduate and Army physician who served on General Eisenhower's staff. In 1971, she died from lung cancer, aged 66, at her home in New York City and was interred in the West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York. When Dr. Ross died in 1991, he was buried with her.
- Burlington, North Carolina Daily Times-News, Hollywood Gossip, March 29, 1934, Page 8.
- Long Beach, California Press-Telegram, Film and Drama, June 22, 1952, Page 31.
- Los Angeles Times, Studio and Stage, May 29, 1925, Page A7.
- Los Angeles Times, Glenda Farrell Praised for Art in Best People, October 4, 1925, Page 23.
- Los Angeles Times, Stage Star To Play In Films, July 9, 1930, Page A12.
- Van Neste, Dan. Glenda Farrell, Diamond in the Rough Classic Images May, 1998.
- 1930 United States Federal Census, April 15, 1930, Enumeration District 19-30, Sheet 15-A.
- Mike French & Gilles Verschuere (2005-09-14). "Debora Nadoolman interview". TheRaider.net. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
- Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Actress To Wed In June, March 11, 1931, Page 11.
- Valparaiso, Indiana. Vidette-Messenger, Glenda To Wed, February 6, 1941, Page 5.
- "Dr. Henry Ross, 89, Eisenhower's Chief Of Health in War". New York Times. June 28, 1991. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
- European Stars and Stripes, Actress Glenda Farrell Dies in N.Y. at Age 67, May 3, 1971, Page 6.
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