Revisiting—and correcting—the stories of Frances Farmer. The star of 1930s and ’40s Hollywood was once thought to have been lobotomized after being involuntary committed to an institution:
Let’s make something perfectly clear: Frances was not lobotomized. Granted, Dr. Walter Freeman did visit Steilacoom and perform lobotomies while Frances was incarcerated there—but correlation isn’t commission, obviously, and, more importantly, Frances’s medical records confirm that she wasn’t operated on for any reason whatsoever at Steilacoom. This according to Jeffrey Kauffman, a musician and historian, who describes himself as “the first person to obtain access to pertinent medical and court records [that] clarify many aspects of Farmer’s history.” Furthermore, no one during Frances’s lifetime claimed or even implied that Frances had been lobotomized—not Frances, not her doctors, not her family, not her bitter former lovers, not her ex-husbands three, not even that veritable (albeit charming) bullhorn of calumny, movie gossip columnist Louella Parsons. No one.