|Born||Mark Ernest Frechette
December 4th 1947
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
|Died||September 27th 1975 (aged 27)
Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA
Mark Frechette (December 4, 1947 – September 27, 1975) was an American film actor. He is best known for his lead role in the 1970 film Zabriskie Point, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, in which he was cast despite having no previous acting experience.
He tithed his $60,000 earnings from Zabriskie Point and other films to Mel Lyman's commune.
Frechette was selected from among thousands during a casting process that lasted nearly a year. He was discovered in Boston by Sally Dennison, Antonioni's assistant and casting director, while in the middle of a violent shouting match at a Charles Street bus-stop. As Antonioni toured the U.S., experiencing culture clash first hand and shooting background footage, Dennison saw Frechette, a carpenter, scream and throw a flowerpot at a woman on the street. Another version centered on Frechette getting in a verbal argument with a person who was on the third floor of an apartment building above him, which is the one referred to in many interviews. "He’s twenty and he hates," Dennison told Antonioni. The director immediately cast Frechette, a non-actor, in the films leading role: a student, wrongfully hunted for the murder of a policeman during a college uprising. Mark Frechette and Antonioni disagreed bitterly about the script during filming.
Despite the film's being a critical and box office failure, Frechette enjoyed a period of considerable publicity, his face gracing the covers of Look Magazine  in November 1969 and Rolling Stone magazine on March 7, 1970. He also notably appeared on the cover of Sight and Sound, the March 1970 and September 1970 covers of Films and Filming alongside several other magazine. He also appeared in the November 1969 issue of Vogue (magazine) in a fashion shoot. He appeared on the Merv Griffin Show alongside Abbie Hoffman when the latter controversially wore the American Flag as a shirt and Frechette got in a fight with another guest, which was later discussed during his appearance on the Dick Cavett Show in April 1970 with his Zabriskie Point co-star Daria Halprin. He and Daria were romantically involved for a time after the film and often referred to as the first counter-culture couple.
On August 29, 1973, he and two members of the Fort Hill commune attempted to rob the New England Merchant's Bank in the Fort Hill section of Roxbury, a poor neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. One of the members of the commune, Christopher "Herc" Thien, was killed by police and Frechette was arrested and sentenced to the minimum security state prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts. He died during an apparent weightlifting accident when a 150-pound bar fell on his neck, choking him to death. Prison officials did not suspect foul play; however, questions arose whether Frechette had been suffering from depression. He was 27 years old.
In 2008 the filmmaker Michael Yaroshevsky presented a 27-minute documentary on the life of Frechette titled Death Valley Superstar that screened at the Festival International du Film sur l'Art , the San Francisco International Film Festival and the São Paulo International Film Festival.
- Ancestry.com. Social Security Death Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009.
- "Mark Frechette". Listal.com. 1947-09-27. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
- "look69 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. 2008-02-05. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
- Zabriskie Point - Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict - June 25, 2008
- The Sorry Life & Death of Mark Frechette - Rolling Stone - November 6, 1975
- Mark Frechette at the Internet Movie Database
- The Sorry Life & Death of Mark Frechette by DAVE O'BRIAN
- Return to Zabriskie Point: The Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin Story at Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict
- Death Valley Superstar