Mark Frechette

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Mark Frechette
Mark Frechette.jpg
Born Mark Ernest Frechette
December 4th 1947
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died September 27th 1975 (aged 27)
Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA
Occupation Actor

Mark Frechette (December 4, 1947 – September 27, 1975)[1] 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 appeared in two other films made in Italy and Yugoslavia, Many Wars Ago (Uomini Contro, 1970) and La Grande Scrofa Nera (1971).

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.[2] 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.[3]

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 [4] in November 1969 and Rolling Stone magazine on March 7, 1970.[5] 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. According to the Hungarian Wikipedia article on 'Zabriskie Point' the Hungarian film director in emigration, Dezso Magyar wrote the following in the March edition of the 'Filmkultura' magazine about this incident: 'To give you an example, my first friend was Mark Frechette, protagonist of the film Zabriskie Point. We wanted to make a film, to adapt a part of 'Sin and Punishment' because we felt that America was like a Dostoyevsky-type world. Mark said that he would get the money in Boston. He phoned me every second day and always assured me that he almost had the money. One day he called me and said that he would bring the 5 million dollars the next day. Great! I was watching TV in the evening when it was announced that (...) Mark Frechette attempted to rob a bank at gunpoint (...) and was arrested.' 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.[6] He was 27 years old.

In 2008 Michael Yaroshevsky presented a film on Frechette titled Death Valley Superstar.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ancestry.com. Social Security Death Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009.
  2. ^ http://popcultureaddict.com/movies-2/zabriskiepoint-htm/
  3. ^ "Mark Frechette". Listal.com. 1947-09-27. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  4. ^ "look69 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. 2008-02-05. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  5. ^ Zabriskie Point - Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict - June 25, 2008
  6. ^ The Sorry Life & Death of Mark Frechette - Rolling Stone - November 6, 1975

External links[edit]