April 14, 2023 | Samantha Henman

Delicate Facts About Mia Farrow, The Rose Of Hollywood

Mia Farrow may be known for her delicate beauty, but it's her steely strength that has kept her on screen. From iconic roles in her early career to her scandalous relationship with Woody Allen, Farrow has seen the best and the worst that fame has to offer. Here are 50 little-known facts about Mia Farrow.

1. In Her DNA

Mia Farrow was born on February 9, 1945, straight into Hollywood pedigree. Her parents were film director John Farrow and actress Maureen O’Sullivan. With such famous parents, her godparents had to meet the gold standard, too. Her godfather was famed director George Cukor, and her godmother the first film columnist, Louella Parsons.

mia farrow

2. Crowded House

Farrow grew up in a strict Roman Catholic household with six siblings. She loved to perform for them, their parents, and any sightseers driving by on celebrity tour buses. Farrow was a happy child, but a dark period was looming on the horizon.

Mia Farrow facts Wikipedia

3. Outbreak

When Farrow was just nine years old, she was struck by polio during a huge outbreak in Los Angeles County. Some records claim that up to 500 people were hospitalized at the time. The young Farrow was kept in quarantine, all alone, for three excruciating weeks. It was a lot for such a young girl to take, and she later said that the period marked “the end of [her] childhood.”

Mia Farrow facts Getty Images

4. Start ‘Em Young

Farrow has over 50 film credits to her name, and she didn’t get them by waiting around. When she was two years old, she appeared in a short documentary, and then, when she was 13, she appeared in her father’s film John Paul Jones.

Mia Farrow factsJohn Paul Jones (1959), Warner Bros.

5. The Sound of Rejection

However, Farrow didn’t always get the parts she wanted. When she was 20, she auditioned for the role of Liesel in The Sound of Music, but lost out to Charmian Carr, who was 21 when the movie was filmed. Both actresses were quite a few years off from “Sixteen Going on Seventeen," but no one in production seemed to care.

Mia Farrow factsWikimedia Commons

6. I’ve Got Friends in High Places

Few people know that Mia Farrow was close personal friends with the iconic musician John Lennon. He even wrote the song “Dear Prudence” for her younger sister, Prudence Farrow. However, on a more tragic note, Mia's apartment building is next door to the Dakota, infamously known as the place where Lennon was brutally assassinated.

John Lennon FactsGetty Images

7. If These Walls Could Talk

The Dakota was also the setting for what is probably Farrow’s most iconic film, Rosemary’s Baby. It was called the Bramford in the film, and only used for exterior shots, as no filming was allowed inside.

Mia Farrow factsWikimedia Commons

8. Daddy Doesn’t Know Best

It would be an understatement to say that Mia Farrow had a fraught relationship with her father. In reality, father and daughter were deeply unhappy. After the tragic passing of Mia's oldest brother Michael in 1958, John Farrow began drinking heavily and had violent fights with his wife. When Farrow was just 17 years old, he passed on after suffering a heart attack.

Mia Farrow factsGetty Images

9. Everybody Pitch In

The Farrow family hadn’t been in great financial shape even before Michael’s passing, so when he passed, things only got harder. Farrow’s mother had been appearing in Broadway productions in New York City to keep the family afloat. After Michael passed on, Mia Farrow was ready to do her part to contribute to the family’s finances. Making good on her slim figure and beautiful face, Farrow turned to modelling.

Mia Farrow factsShutterstock

10. The Big Break

In 1964, a year after her father’s passing, Farrow got her big break when she was cast in the primetime soap opera Peyton Place. She played Allison MacKenzie, an innocent teen girl, for over 250 episodes. Her love interest in the show was portrayed by then-heartthrob Ryan O’Neal. Looking back, this is darkly ironic: O'Neal is now known for his controversial relationship with his daughter, in similar vein to one of Farrow's famous exes. More on that later...

Mia Farrow factsPeyton Place (1964–1969), 20th Century Fox Television

11. Pick One

When she was just 21 years old, Farrow fell madly in love with a significantly older man: the iconic Frank Sinatra, then 50 years old. But little did young Farrow know, the couple was doomed to a brutal end. Sinatra was very controlling of his young bride, demanding she give up her career. Farrow agreed, shocking the nation by leaving Peyton Place at the height of her rising star.

Mia Farrow factsGetty Images

12. From Soap Opera to A List

At this point in her career, Farrow was known more for her high-profile marriage and her time on a soap opera than her mettle as a serious actress. However, an incredibly opportunity was about to come knocking. Farrow was offered the prestigious leading role in the classic horror film Rosemary’s Babybut little did she know, it would come at a great cost.

Mia Farrow factsRosemary

13. Surprise, We’re Over

After marrying Sinatra and putting her career on hold in 1966, Farrow spent two long years playing housewife while he continued to work. Bored of her bland, domestic lifestyle, she agreed to play the role of Rosemary Woodhouse in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby. As the movie's filming schedule ran over time, Farrow received a heartbreaking letter. Sinatra served her with divorce papers.

Seinfeld FactsGetty Images

14. Oscar Bait

Farrow actually considered dropping out of the film because of the strain it placed on her marriage, but allegedly, a studio exec told her that she’d win an Oscar if she did it. Famously, Farrow was nominated for multiple awards for Rosemary’s Baby, but no Academy Award—a move now seen as one of the most legendary snubs in Oscar history.

The Academy Awards factsPexels

15. Work-Life Imbalance

Although Sinatra urged Farrow to quit acting when they wed, he actually planned to cast her in one movie: his passion project The Detective. And so, when filming for Rosemary’s Baby took longer than anticipated, Sinatra was extremely furious. He recast Jacqueline Bisset in his wife’s role, and cruelly divorced Farrow.

Mia Farrow factsGetty Images

16. Me Without You

Despite Sinatra’s callous behavior during the dissolution of their marriage, Farrow later admitted that when she was with Sinatra, she acted like an immature teenager, which contributed to the strain on their relationship. After their divorce, they managed to put the past in the past, with the pair even staying close friends until the legendary crooner's passing in 1998.

Mia Farrow factsWikipedia

17. Stay the Course

With Rosemary’s Baby, Farrow finally found respectability and critical acclaim as an actress, and she was determined to continue on that path. She appeared in films opposite megastars like Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Mitchum, and other up-and-comers like Dustin Hoffman—but soon enough, she’d make history all on her own.

Elizabeth Taylor FactsGetty Images

18. First Place

In 1971, Mia Farrow became the very first American actress to join the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company. She would go on to act in numerous critically-acclaimed stage productions in London throughout the 70s.

Mia Farrow factsWikimedia Commons

19. Dip Your Toes in the Water

Despite her strict upbringing and faith, Farrow also studied transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1968. Unbelievably, she was there at the same time as all four of the Beatles, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, the singer Donovan, and Farrow's own sister Prudence. Talk about a super group, right?

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with members of the Beatles and other famous followers, who have chosen to study transcendental meditation at his academy in IndiaGetty Images

20. Moving On

After Farrow's dramatic divorce from Frank Sinatra, the young actress decided to give love another try, setting her sights on the acclaimed composer Andre Previn. Unfortunately for Farrow and Previn, their relationship had a disturbing dark side. When they first started seeing each other, Previn was still married to his second wife, Dory.

Mia Farrow factsWikipedia

21. A Busy Year

When Farrow became pregnant in 1969, Previn knew that things had to change. He left his wife before Farrow gave birth to twin boys in February. Farrow and Previn were wed on September 10, 1970, just a few months after his divorce from Dory Previn was finalized. As though that wasn't dramatic enough, when Farrow and Previn walked down the aisle, she was 25 to his 41.

Mia Farrow factsWikimedia Commons

22. Beware of Young Girls

After Andre Previn left his ex-wife Dory Previn for Mia Farrow, Dory wrote an absolutely brutal song titled “Beware of Young Girls.” It excoriates Farrow, claiming that the pair had been friends, but that Farrow had “a dark and different plan.”

Mia Farrow factsGetty Images

23. The Previn Bunch

In the time Farrow and Previn were married, they had three biological children: twins Matthew and Sascha, and son Fletcher. They also adopted three children together, Lark Song and Summer Song, both from Vietnam, and Soon-Yi, from Korea. While all Farrow's children would change her life, Soon-Yi would have an especially troubling impact.

Mia Farrow factsGetty Images

24. One Thoughtless Day

In the final verse of Dory Previn’s song “Beware of Young Girls,” she concludes with a brutal line. She predicts that “She will leave him one thoughtless day, she'll just leave him and go away.” Whether or not that’s exactly what came to pass, Farrow and Previn did divorce. After nine years of marriage, the duo went their separate ways in 1979.

J.K. Rowling Facts Shutterstock

25. Unlucky 13

It was shortly after her divorce from Previn that Farrow began her most infamous relationship of all, with director Woody Allen. While they never married, their relationship would last an unlucky 13 years.

Mia Farrow factsGetty Images

26. Expanding the Brood

In the early years of her relationship with Allen, Farrow adopted two more children as a single mother: Moses Farrow, a Korean boy with cerebral palsy; and Dylan, who Farrow adopted at just two weeks old. They would later go on to be co-adopted by Woody Allen. The couple also had a son together, named Satchel Ronan O’Sullivan Farrow. He now goes by the name Ronan, which is understandable.

Mia Farrow factsShutterstock

27. Playing Favorites

Farrow’s relationship with Allen was incredibly fruitful for her career as an actress. She frequently appeared in her partner's films, beginning with a parody of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1982. The role was originally written for Allen’s ex-girlfriend (and frequent collaborator) Diane Keaton. Allen is now notorious for repeatedly casting certain actresses, sometimes called his muses, in his films.

Mia Farrow factsA Midsummer Night

28. Mia Blue Eyes

In Allen’s 1984 film Broadway Danny Rose, Farrow went to extreme lengths to play against type. In order to portray a woman who gets mixed up with the mob, Farrow gained weight and spoke in a heavy Italian accent, with many saying she was “unrecognizable.” Farrow's impressive performance earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

Mia Farrow factsBroadway Danny Rose (1984), Orion Pictures

29. Unlucky 13 Part II

In total, Farrow and Allen collaborated on a total of 13 movies during their relationship. Their final project, Husbands and Wives, was released in 1992, shortly after their highly public and scandalous separation. Ironically enough, Allen and Farrow play a married couple in the film, and, surprise surprise, Allen’s character has an extramarital affair.

Mia Farrow factsHusbands and Wives (1992), TriStar Pictures

30. Surprise!

In January 1992, Mia Farrow made an utterly disturbing discovery that would change the course of her life forever. Farrow and Allen had famously always kept separate homes across Central Park throughout their relationship. While visiting Allen’s home, Farrow found pictures of her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi, undressed.

Michael Caine factsGetty Images

31. Beware of Young Girls Part II

When Farrow confronted Allen, he told her that he and Soon-Yi had begun a physical relationship two weeks prior to her discovery of the photos. She ended their relationship then, although both Allen and Soon-Yi later claimed that Allen and Farrow had already been broken up by that time. In any case, when Allen and Soon-Yi began their relationship. Soon-Yi was just 21 years old.

Mia Farrow factsWikimedia Commons

32. Bad News Comes in Avalanches

Knowing that their controversial relationship would raise eyebrows, both Soon-Yi and Allen claimed that he hadn’t had a paternal role in her life. During a later court battle, it was found that the two had rarely interacted prior to 1990. Their relationship wasn’t made public until later in 1992—and the news emerged side-by-side with another horrific scandal involving Farrow and Allen.

Mia Farrow factsShutterstock

33. She Said, He Said, She Said

Farrow and Allen had been separated for months by August 1992, but he still visited with the children he shared with Farrow: Dylan, Moses, and Satchel. After an unsupervised visit with Dylan, then seven years old, little Dylan told Farrow that Allen had touched her inappropriately. Farrow informed the authorities, while Allen found out about the allegations from the family’s therapist.

Mia Farrow factsShutterstock

34. Escalation

Allen’s response to the allegations was astonishing. While Farrow and Allen had previously been close to reaching an agreement about the custody of the three children they shared, after the accusation, he sued for full custody of Dylan, Moses, and Satchel. He also released a public statement confirming his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn.

Allen also said that Dylan and Mia Farrow’s allegations against him were false, and that Mia had manipulated Dylan into making them as an act of vengeance.

Mia Farrow factsGetty Images

35. See You In Court

A series of lengthy, heart-wrenching court battles quickly ensued. Allen’s petition for sole custody was ultimately rejected; a criminal inquiry against Allen was not pursued by authorities in order to prevent any further trauma to Dylan; and Farrow’s petition to revoke Allen’s adoption of Dylan and Moses was also rejected.

Gloria Vanderbilt FactsShutterstock

36. The Neverending Story

In the years since the court battles came to a close, both Mia and Dylan Farrow have maintained their allegations of abuse against Allen, with Ronan Farrow backing them up. Allen continues to deny the allegations.

Mia Farrow factsShutterstock

37. That’s a Lot of Laundry

During the final months of her relationship with Allen and in the years afterward, Farrow adopted five more children: Tam, Kaeli-Shea (later known as Quincy Maureen), Frankie-Minh, Isaiah Justus, and Gabriel Wilk (later known as Thaddeus Wilk). If you lost count, that makes 14 children in total for Farrow: four biological, 10 adopted.

Mia Farrow factsGetty Images

38. Torn Apart

Of those 14 children, Mia Farrow is estranged from two of them. Soon-Yi Previn went on to marry Woody Allen in 1997, and has no contact with her adopted mother. In 1992, after her relationship with Allen became public, her adopted father Andre Previn coldly said of Soon-Yi, “she does not exist.” Andre Previn passed on in 2019.

Moses Farrow, who was first adopted by Mia and later co-adopted by Woody Allen, made an utterly chilling allegation. According to Moses, Mia Farrow was actually the abusive parent. Moses claims that Mia coached Dylan to make the allegations against Allen.

Mia Farrow factsShutterstock

39. Bad Luck Comes in Threes

After the conclusion of her court battle with Woody Allen, it should’ve been happily-ever-after for Mia Farrow and her brood, but sadly, tragedy lurked in the shadows. Since 2000, three of Farrow’s 10 adopted children have passed on. First, Tam Farrow succumbed to heart failure in 2000. On Christmas Day 2008, Lark Previn passed on after battling an HIV-related illness. Then, in 2016, Thaddeus Farrow took his own life.

Queen Maria I of Portugal FactsShutterstock

40. Cries and Whispers

In 2018, Mia Farrow’s estranged son Moses made a number of disturbing allegations about the passing of his siblings on his personal blog. He claimed that Tam’s heart failure was related to an overdose and that Lark’s demise also partly stemmed from substance use issues.

Bela Lugosi factsShutterstock

41. Success Story

On a brighter note, Mia Farrow and Woody Allen’s biological son Ronan Farrow is an accomplished journalist.

Mia Farrow factsWikimedia Commons

42. Not Just a Pretty Face

Mia Farrow is known for her volunteer work for humanitarian causes. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, advocates for the rights and health of African children, and has frequently traveled to Darfur to shine a light on the conflict there.

Mia Farrow factsWikimedia Commons

43. A Sad Legacy

One of the humanitarian causes that Farrow campaigns for is the fight against polio—perhaps because it’s one that hits frightfully close to home. Of course, there was her own battle against the disease at nine years old, but one of her adopted children, Thaddeus, also contracted polio and was paralyzed from the waist down as a result.

Mia Farrow factsFlickr, hdptcar

44. Gotta Have Faith

Mia Farrow went to Catholic school for most of her education, and has remained a devout Catholic for her entire life—despite those pesky divorces.

Sharon Tate FactsGetty Images

45. Win Some, Lose Some

One of Farrow's most famous roles is her performance as the flighty heiress Daisy Buchanan in the luxe 1974 adaptation of The Great Gatsby, opposite Bruce Dern as Tom Buchanan and Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby. While the film wasn't a huge hit with critics, it was a big financial success. The Great Gatsby made over $26 million at the box office on a $7 million budget.

Mia Farrow factsThe Great Gatsby (1974), Paramount Pictures

46. Head in the Clouds

One of the criticisms of The Great Gatsby was the lack of chemistry between Mia Farrow and Robert Redford. Farrow actually attributed this to Redford’s fascination with the Watergate scandal, which was unfolding at the time. He would later play Watergate figure Bob Woodward in All the President’s Men to great acclaim.

Mia Farrow factsThe Great Gatsby (1974), Paramount Pictures

47. First Things First

Mia Farrow was actually featured on the cover of the first-ever issue of the now-legendary People magazine.

Mia Farrow factsFlickr, Joe Wolf

48. Loss in the Chosen Family

Farrow was very close friends with fellow actress Sharon Tate in the 60s—after all, Farrow had been in Tate’s husband Roman Polanski’s biggest movie, Rosemary’s Baby. She was reportedly devastated after Tate’s passing, as both has gotten pregnant around the same time.

Sharon Tate by Peter Brüchmann (1968)Flickr

49. The Next Generation

Rosemary’s Baby was part of a wave of horror films in the 70s that used themes of Satanism to scare audiences, along with classics like The Exorcist and The Omen. But unlike its competitors, Rosemary's Baby nearly took the life of its lead actress. The director, Roman Polanski, actually made Farrow walk into traffic. He assured her that no one would hit a pregnant woman. Luckily, he was right.

Sharon Tate FactsGetty Images

50. Young Blue Eyes

In 2013, Mia Farrow made a disturbing claim in a now-infamous interview. Farrow admitted that she always suspected that Ronan, her son with Woody Allen, could’ve actually been the product of a tryst with her ex, Frank Sinatra. Many were quick to point out Ronan's resemblance to Sinatra. However, not everyone agrees.

Sinatra’s daughter Nancy was quick to refute the story, claiming that Mia Farrow was just joking and that her father had gotten a vasectomy prior to Ronan’s birth.

Mia Farrow factsShutterstock

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

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