Volume III: Biographies



Actor (1914-1915)

Postcard courtesy Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc.


Thanhouser Career Synopsis: Frank Farrington was an actor with Thanhouser in 1914 and 1915.

Biographical Notes: Frank Farrington was born in Bruxton, London, England on July 8, 1873 and was educated at Stockwell College there. In 1895 he made his stage debut. He appeared for many years in the support of Olga Nethersole and other players, and was under the direction of the Shuberts, Dillingham, and others.

His screen career began with Vitagraph in 1910. He then was with Edison for a time, after which he went to Thanhouser. He was with Thanhouser in the mid-teens and appeared in many films, including the 1914 serial, The Million Dollar Mystery. He was the father of Irene ("Reenie") and Doris Farrington.

In 1914, the Photoplay Arts Portfolio of Thanhouser Motion Picture Stars noted: "He is just short of six feet, weighs 173 pounds, has hazel eyes, dark brown hair, fair complexion, and is married. He has acted in about 400 photoplays.... His favorite work is eccentric comedy and character leads. He likes to write poetry and short sketches. His favorite sport is swimming and his principal diversion playing the flute. He hopes some day to become a photoplay director." A biographical sketch in The Moving Picture World, March 3, 1917, said that he had gray eyes and a dark complexion.

Reel Life, May 23, 1914, printed this item: "Frank Farrington, Thanhouser character lead, was born in London where he attended Stockwell College. On one occasion he had a pretty close shave while out at sea. He dived from a small craft and was chased by a shark. Managing to escape to a nearby ship, however, he was preserved for a future in Thanhouser pictures. Mr. Farrington is renowned for his exceptional cheerfulness. He says that he believes life was given us not merely to live, but to revel in good health. He finds a great deal of truth in Christian Science - and when he is downhearted, he writes sketches and poetry, piquantly flavored with his own observations on human nature. Mr. Farrington aspires to a directorship in a film company, and meanwhile, he puts his best into playing eccentric, comedy and character parts which are his favorites."

A British citizen, Farrington on Monday, September 28, 1914 declared his intention to become an American citizen and took out naturalization papers (as did his friend Sidney Bracy on the same day).

A 1914 Portrait: The New Rochelle Pioneer, October 10,1914, carried this sketch by John William Kellette: "Frank Farrington is a whole lot funnier than one would imagine by seeing him at his 'devilish work in The Million Dollar Mystery, because, for years that the writer will not state, Frank has been principal comedian to such stars as Lulu Glaser, Blanche Ring, Fritzi Scheff, and has been under the management of Klaw & Erlanger, Charles Dillingham and the Shuberts. He was with Olga Nethersole in Sappho, and his debut with the Thanhouser corporation was in March of this year in A Debut in the Secret Service.

"He was born in London in the late '70s and although he has not been entirely weaned from English associations, loves New Rochelle like a native. He lives with Mrs. Farrington and his two charming daughters, Miss Reenie, lead of the Princess films for several months and now transferred to the parent company - Thanhouser, and Miss Doris, the nine-year-old aquatic marvel, who will challenge any nine-year-old swimmer in New Rochelle for a spurt in the Sound.

"Mr. Farringtons last legitimate work was in The Midnight Girl in 1913. At the command of the Queen of England he gave a performance at Wellington Chamber, Windsor Castle, which is the ultimate hope of all English actors. To appear before the Queen is the apex of the monument of fame, and Farrington has had that honor. In New Rochelle, for a fact, at a recent Elk gathering, Mr. Farrington gave an impersonation in character of an old actor - 'A Fallen Star - and critics said it was the best of its kind they had ever seen. His character makeup was perfect.

"As Braine in The Million Dollar Mystery, the arch-conspirator, he is doing great work and is becoming universally disliked (an attest to art) on the screen by his villainous work. But Frank doesnt care. Those he pursues on the screen are his best friends outside the vision of the camera, and after issuing an edict to put somebody out of business hell be seen after the director tells him the work is over for the day, linked arm in arm with the 'victim and taking him or her away for a trip in his boat, because hes a lover of things watery - both as a beverage, as a means of locomotion, and a cooling fluid wherein one may plunge at the end of the day. Hes a bally good pal, old top! Believe me!"

Later Activities: The New Rochelle Pioneer, October 24, 1914, noted: "Frank Farrington has handed in his resignation upon the completion of his work in The Million Dollar Mystery and will take a short vacation from the picture screen. He has something in view for the future but is not ready to divulge his plans." In the same month he appeared with his friend and fellow Thanhouser actor, Sidney Bracy, in numerous vaudeville performances on Loews circuit, in a show managed by John William Kellette. His resignation was short-lived, and soon Farrington was back on Thanhouser movie sets.

The New Rochelle Pioneer, December 5, 1914, told of certain of the actors admirers: "'The Braine Colony, of Palm Beach, Florida, an organization of several young women who adore Frank Farrington and have a joyfest when he appears on the screen, recently sent him an evidence of their regard - an alligator card receiver - which he prizes very highly. One of the members deplored the fact that he was cast in villainous roles in The Mystery, and hoped to see him in more romantic roles. The card receiver is a mounted saurian about a foot high, bearing a silver platter with a Palm Beach scene upon it. It occupies a prominent position in Franks home, 22 Pratt Street."

When Edwin Thanhouser returned to the studio bearing his name, in spring 1915, he made it clear that Frank Farringtons services were no longer required. During the third week of March, Farrington, Sidney Bracy, and over a dozen other players lost their employment. His last day of employment was Saturday, April 3rd.

News Notes: The New Rochelle Pioneer frequently mentioned his activities. Samples:

April 3, 1915: "Tonight Frank Farrington, with the assistance of Sidney Bracy at the piano, will present a new act at the Thanhouser Theatre. Mr. Farrington, who has endeared himself to thousands of New Rochelleans, and who has achieved international fame in creating the parts of Braine, head of the conspirators in The Million Dollar Mystery, and Captain Radcliffe in The Twenty Million Dollar Mystery, terminates his contract with the local studio today and opens on the Marcus Loew time, Monday, at the American Theatre, New York City. He plans a trip to the Coast on the Loew time. This will, perhaps, be the last public appearance of Mr. Farrington in New Rochelle and, as he is a stockholder and director in Thanhouser Theatres, he planned a fitting farewell to his friends."

May 1, 1915: "Frank Farrington begins on Monday in an Edison cast, playing the lead in one of the big Edison melodramatic features. Frank says he prefers pictures to touring and vaudeville engagements, hence his reason for turning down a flattering offer to appear in Providence, Rhode Island and Newark, New Jersey." (The June 19, 1915 issue noted that he had completed his engagement with the Edison Studio where he starred in support of Gertrude McCoy in a three-reel feature, Through Turbulent Waters).

October 14, 1916: "Frank Farrington of Stephenson Park, formerly a Thanhouser star, left on Monday night for Toronto, Canada, with Jimmy Powers, to appear in the latters new farce-comedy Somebodys Luggage. He will probably be gone about ten weeks before returning to New York."

After Thanhouser: New Rochelle city directories indicate that the Farrington family lived at 22 Pratt Street from 1914 through 1916, and at 9 Division Street in 1917 and 1918. Frank Farrington was with Edison in the summer of 1915, playing the male lead in Through Turbulent Waters, as noted. The August 4, 1915 issue of The New York Dramatic Mirror noted that he had temporarily left the screen for the speaking stage and had signed a three-year contract with Henry W. Savage and would be playing the role of Cadeaux in the Sari company.

On April 27, 1916 he joined Thanhouser employees in presenting entertainment at the Thanhouser Ball, but it is not known if he was actually employed as an actor by Thanhouser at the time. The New Rochelle Evening Standard, August 22, 1916, carried this item: "Frank Farrington, for many years an actor on the professional stage, is to open a school of acting at his residence on Pratt Street. He was prominent in The Million Dollar Mystery in which and in other productions he has achieved an enviable reputation. Mr. Farrington believes there is much histrionic talent that is lying dormant in the Huguenot city [New Rochelle] and it is his ambition to develop this talent and at some future date give a public performance by such talent as he may be able to bring out, each to be suitably cast in the production to be selected."

The New Rochelle Evening Standard, October 7, 1916, carried this item: "Frank Farrington, Stephenson Park, formerly a Thanhouser star, leaves tonight for Toronto, Canada with Jimmy Powers in the latters new farce comedy Somebodys Luggage. He will probably be gone about ten weeks before returning to New York. Mr. Farrington is an old friend of Jimmys, having been with him in The Blue Moon. He also has played with Lulu Glazer, Olga Nethersole and other stars."

In 1916 he was on the screen in The Long Trail (Paramount), and by early 1917 he was with Famous Players. The New Rochelle Evening Standard, September 27, 1917, reported that Frank Farrington had returned to New Rochelle and was living at 9 Division Street. Earlier he had been in Philadelphia with the Reviera Girl Company, which by September had moved to a New York theatre where it was booked through February 1918. Farrington played the part of Anatole, a comic waiter. In the meantime, Mrs. Farrington organized a knitting club among the Thanhouser studio employees and sent 15 sets of sweaters, helmets and wristlets to Thanhouser men and others in the American forces in Europe. Money for the wool is provided by Clara Kimball Young, who was making films with her own company at the Thanhouser studio. In 1918 he played in The Great Victory, Wilson or the Kaiser? (popularly known as Wilson or the Kaiser? - Screen Classics for Metro), and in 1919 he appeared in The Scar (World). Frank Farrington appeared in films until his death, on May 27, 1924, in Los Angeles, California.

Thanhouser Filmography:

1914: Repentance (3-31-1914), A Debut in the Secret Service (4-7-1914), The Musicians Daughter (4-14-1914), The Strategy of Conductor 786 (4-26-1914), A Mohammedan Conspiracy (5-12-1914), Pamela Congreve (5-26-1914), Was She Right in Forgiving Him? (5-26-1914), Beating Back (Direct-From-Broadway Features 6-9-1914), A Hatful of Trouble (12-27-1914)

1914-1915 Serial: The Million Dollar Mystery

1915: A Man of Iron (2-16-1915), On the Brink of the Abyss (3-2-1915), Fashion and the Simple Life (4-25-1915)

1916: Pamelas Past (reissue of the 1914 film, Pamela Congreve, by Exclusive Features 12-1-1916)

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Copyright © 1995 Q. David Bowers. All Rights Reserved.