William Farnum

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William Farnum
William Farnum.jpg
Farnum in 1917
Born(1876-07-04)July 4, 1876
DiedJune 5, 1953(1953-06-05) (aged 76)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
Years active1900–1952
Spouse(s)Mabel Eaton
(m. ??; div. ??)
Olive White
(m. 1906; div. 1931)

Isabelle Major
(m. 1932)
Children5, including Dorothy Farnum
RelativesDustin Farnum
Marshall Farnum

William Farnum (July 4, 1876 – June 5, 1953) was an American actor. He was a star of American silent cinema, and he became one of the highest-paid actors during this time.


Farnum was born on July 4, 1876 in Boston, Massachusetts, but he grew up in Bucksport, Maine.[1]

One of three brothers, Farnum grew up in a family of actors. He made his acting debut at the age of 10 in Richmond, Virginia, in a production of Julius Caesar, with Edwin Booth playing the title character.

He portrayed the title character of Ben-Hur (1900) on Broadway. Later plays Farnum appeared in there included The Prince of India (1906), The White Sister (1909), The Littlest Rebel (1911) co-starring his brother Dustin, and Arizona (1913), also with Dustin.[2]

In The Spoilers in 1914, Farnum and Tom Santschi staged a film fight which lasted for a full reel. In 1930, Farnum and Santschi coached Gary Cooper and William Boyd in the fight scene for the 1930 version of The Spoilers. Other actors influenced by the Farnum/Santschi scene were Milton Sills and Noah Beery in 1923 and Randolph Scott and John Wayne in 1942.[3]

From 1915 to 1952, Farnum devoted his life to motion pictures. He became one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood, earning $10,000 per week.[citation needed] Farnum's silent pictures Drag Harlan (1920) and If I Were King (1921) survive from his years contracted to Fox Films. Nearly all of Fox's silent films made before 1932 were destroyed in a vault fire in 1937.

Personal life[edit]

Married three times, Farnum was the father of screenwriter Dorothy Farnum with Mabel Eaton.[4] He had a daughter, named Sara Adele, with Olive White, his second wife. He had three children with Isabelle, his third wifer.[5]

Farnum died from uremia and cancer on June 5, 1953 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital.[6][7] He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.[8]

On February 8, 1960, Farnum received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the motion-picture industry at 6322 Hollywood Boulevard.[9][10]

He was the younger brother of film actor Dustin Farnum. He had another brother, Marshall Farnum, who was a silent film director.[citation needed]


William Farnum at a piano in 1915
The Man Hunter (1919)




  1. ^ Lowrey, Carolyn (1920). The First One Hundred Noted Men and Women of the Screen. Moffat, Yard. p. 56. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  2. ^ "William Farnum". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on October 30, 2019. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  3. ^ Griffith, Richard, &Arthur Mayer, The Movies (Bonanza Books, 1957), pp. 98-99
  4. ^ The Los Angeles Times; October 17, 1927
  5. ^ "The Times-News - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  6. ^ "The Evening Gazette - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  7. ^ "The Times-News - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  8. ^ Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries
  9. ^ "William Farnum | Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  10. ^ "William Farnum". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  11. ^ Wenzell, Nicolette (April 3, 2016). "1919 movie 'The Lone Star Ranger' shot in Palm Springs". The Desert Sun. Gannett.

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