That’s a clip from “Come and Get It,” featuring West Seattle-raised movie star Frances Farmer, who came back to the city for its premiere in 1936. Seventy-five years later, she remains a local legend and source of curiosity – which brought about 20 people out for a Museum of History and Industry-sponsored walking tour in Admiral last night.
(Photos by Ellen Cedergreen for WSB)
Its guide was Peder Nelson, the local historian/musician who also put together a Frances Farmer tribute three years ago at the city-landmark Admiral Theater – where last night’s tour began. WSB contributor Ellen Cedergreen went along for part of the tour.
The tour was billed “The Life and Times of Frances Farmer,” and Nelson told her story as the group walked a 2-mile route on the warm August night. He has often pointed out that while she is remembered for the tragic aspects of her story – fighting with mental illness that some say may have been nothing more than a refusal to conform — she also worked for social justice, and strove to break through the barriers women faced back then. Other bits of West Seattle history were woven into the tour, such as the Alki Mail and Dispatch stop:
Nelson said the building at 47th/Admiral was a grocery store back in Farmer’s day – just down the block from the house where she lived, at 2636 47th SW:
She was long gone from Seattle by the time she died in 1970, just 56 years old. But her work lives on, and with events like the ones Nelson has organized, her memory lives on. He, meantime, is known these days as co-host of the “MOHAI Minute” videos – including one from earlier this year, detailing the history of the Admiral Theater itself:
Though Wednesday night’s Frances Farmer tour was presented by MOHAI, you can keep an eye out for Southwest Seattle Historical Society tours too – and a celebration of West Seattle history is coming up at Alki Arts this Friday night, put together by West Seattle Helpline