Frances Farmer, Fannie Farmer: the big blooper

Dateline: Sun 07 Aug 2011

A friend, a blog reader and a former Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library librarian -- a formidable combination -- found an interesting error in the July 24 Indianapolis Star's real estate section. She writes:

"In the Homefinder section, page F6, the house at 4470 N. College is touted as 'once being occupied by Fannie Farmer of 'The Fannie Farmer Cookbook' fame."

"I am guessing," she continues, "that whoever wrote this item (and I realize it may well be someone other than a journalist) has confused Fannie Farmer with Frances Farmer. What do you think? Anyway I laughed for a bit & then I moped as I pondered what has become of the paper of record for Indiana."

Frances Farmer, as you no doubt know, was the talented, mentally ill, bombastic Hollywood movie star who spent the last years of her life (1958 to 1970, the year she died) living in Indianapolis on the Northside.  She hosted a TV show here, was actress in residence at Purdue University and worshipped at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, before dying at 56 of esophagal cancer on Aug. 1, 1970. She is interred at Oaklawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Fishers.

Fannie Farmer (1857-1915) wrote The Boston-School Cooking School Cookbook and introduced American cooks to the concept of standardized measurements. She was also very gifted, and she never came near Indiana, dying at age 57 in Massachusetts.

So, it's obvious that the property listed in the paper was never occupied by Fannie of culinary fame. But there's a chance Frances Farmer lived there, or at least in the neighborhood. (My research shows she did indeed reside in Johnson Woods, where the property for sale is located, but that her home was on Park Avenue). It took me about 10 minutes of Internet hunting to track that down.

And it's obvious that copy editors are sorely missed at the Star.

By the way, as far as I can tell, this mistake was not corrected.  So that's adding one mistake to another. Two wrongs, etc.


Whitebeard [unverified] said:

I remember watching "Francis Farmer Presents" on a regular basis when I was young. She hosted a daily afternoon program with a movie on one of the local TV stations.

I've researched her a bit and found that is likely mythology that she had a lobotomy - as has been claimed by some of her biographers.

She had a very troubled life. But I've seen some of the old films when she was young and she was extremely talented.

The late Kurt Cobain of the rock band Nirvana was so fascinated with Frances Farmer that he named his daughter after her.

It is sad that she doesn't seem to be remembered for her time in Indianapolis. I wonder if there is anything in the Indiana State Museum about her? If not, there should be.

2011-08-07 17:05:59

Duke Young [unverified] said:

Actual address was 5107 N. Park Avenue. She lost that home in the mid 1960's through a bad investment in cosmetics with her friend Jean Ratcliffe. She then rented a home at or near 6000 N. Moller Rd. The Northern border of Johnson's Woods is 46th St. Pictures of the home on Park Avenue (taken by her Star paperboy) are at

2011-08-07 19:34:02

Duke Young [unverified] said:

Correction. Website is (iPad auto-corrected) Wikipedia shows place of death as Fishers, In. I think they are confused as her burial site is in Oaklawn Gardens, Fishers, In.

2011-08-07 19:40:00

ruthholl [Member] said:

Duke, thank you. I saw the photo of that home on Park, and I knew it was not in the 4400-4500 block, as I formerly lived at 4450 Park. Fascinating details. Again, thanks...

2011-08-07 20:29:42

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

When I walked home form my elementary school in the early 60s, my mom would be watching the end of one soap or the beginning of Francis Farmer's Movie Theatre.

She looked, uh...."entertaining." Ms. Farmer, not my mom.

Clearly, there were few rules back then, about appearing on camera whilst intoxicated.

But she spun full details of behind-the-scenes activities of various stars in the movie of the day. It was priceless.

2011-08-07 20:58:32

indykjsharp [unverified] said:

Editors, copyeditors.. who needs 'em?

Behind Closed Doors: Board members named
"Four of the seven appointees to the new Indiana Charter School Board have been named, but none so far are from Indianapolis."

2011-08-07 21:36:02

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

On the subject of copy editing...

It spikes my blood pressure to see how much editorializing (a reporter interjecting his/her opinion into a straight news or feature story) is going on it newspapers today. The Star is certainly no exception in this regard.

I see so much of the following in The Star's sports section that I can barely stand to read through it. "The Colts' Billy Smith, the best cornerback in the NFL, is again expected to play at a high level."

Okay, who says Billy Smith is the best cornerback? Who is your source? You? Then why aren't you writing this in a piece identified as a column or clearly marked as commentary?

Makes me wonder if many contemporary journalists learn their trade from watching Fox News Network.

I imagine my "purist" views on this would make me be stereotyped as a dinosaur in some circles.

2011-08-07 22:58:42

indykjsharp [unverified] said:

Article: More cameras will be watching ....

"... as more funding is available over time, Homeland Security plans to boost the amount of cameras to 100."

2011-08-08 08:08:35

hendy [Member] said:

4470 It's currently owned by a friend of mine who lives in S California; he used to run his business from the home, which is HUGE inside. I don't think its the one you're thinking of-- Frances Farmer's place. He told me it was owned by a Fletcher descendent. It's a fantastic house and has a carriage house over the garage that's big enough for a small family (think servants).

2011-08-08 08:52:42

hendy [Member] said:

Ok, I was wrong. Turns out it is the FF home. He's sending info.

2011-08-08 16:02:25

news junkie [Member] said:

Did anyone notice that Bloomington had a new mayor in the Star's editorial today about I-69? Apparently Mark Kruzan has been replaced by Dennis Kruzan....I wonder if they are related? LOL!

2011-08-08 16:32:44

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Cherie is channeling Brizzi's best bud Tim Durham.

Woo-hoo! Par-teeee!

2011-08-08 21:11:58

indykjsharp [unverified] said:

I am chagrined, news junkie, to say I did not notice the Kruzan error; was too hung up on "none are" and "amount of cameras." These grammatical flubs are not as serious as the factual flubs pointed out in this post!

2011-08-08 21:57:15

Rita Rose [unverified] said:

I wrote a 4-part series on Frances in 1983, when the movie FRANCES came out, and I believe she lived on Park in a small bungalow. It was on the east side of the street. The series had some background stuff from before she came to Indy, but most of it contains recollections from friends and co-workers here. If you're interested, here are the links. If links down't show up, just cut and paste the titles below:

1983 Four-part Series by Rita Rose published in The Indianapolis Star

Part One - True Frances Farmer story remains elusive

Part Two - She couldn't tell the white hats from the black

Part Three - Cult Heroine

Part Four - Friends saw Frances as generous, loving

2011-08-09 08:59:04

Len Puddock [unverified] said:

Not only did Mark Kruzan wrongly become Dennis Kruzanin The Sta, but longtim boxing promoter (38 years) Fred Berns was called Frank Berns in a recent Star sports feature. 38 years his name was in The Star at least once a month and neither the writer nor the copy reader or the prioof reader knew it was Fred. Give cr edit though; they had it correctly Berns, not Burns.
There is an error every day in The Star on page 2 of the firdst section. It reads "The Star corrects its mistakes."

2011-08-09 13:27:23

Bill Beck [unverified] said:

Actually, she lived on N. College in the late 1950s, because my little brother delivered her paper - Like most literate people back then, she was an Indianapolis Times reader.

2011-08-12 16:37:48

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