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Franklyn Farnum
Farnum in the fan magazine Photoplay, 1917
William Smith

(1878-06-05)June 5, 1878
Boston, Massachusetts, US
DiedJuly 4, 1961(1961-07-04) (aged 83)
Other namesFrank Farnum
Occupation(s)Actor, vaudevillian
(m. 1918; div. 1919)
Cursive signature in ink

Franklyn Farnum (born William Smith; June 5, 1878 – July 4, 1961) was an American character actor and Hollywood extra who appeared in at least 1,100 films.[1] He was also cast in more films that won the Academy Award for Best Picture than any other performer in American film industry.[2] He was also credited as Frank Farnum.

Life and career

Farnum was born in 1878 in Boston, Massachusetts, and became a vaudeville actor at the age of twelve. He was featured in a number of theatrical and musical productions by the time he entered silent films near the age of 40.[citation needed] His Broadway credits include Keep It Clean (1929), Ziegfeld 9 O'clock Frolic (1921), Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic (1921), and Somewhere Else (1913).[2]

Farnum's career was dominated mostly by westerns. Some of his more famous films include the serial Vanishing Trails (1920) and the features The Clock (1917), The Firebrand (1922), The Drug Store Cowboy (1925), and The Gambling Fool (1925). He left films in 1925 but returned five years later at the advent of sound, only to find himself billed much further down the credits, if billed at all. However, he continued on in these obscure roles well into the 1950s.

One of his three wives was actress Alma Rubens, to whom he was briefly married in 1918. The couple divorced in 1919. He had one daughter, Martha Lillian Smith, who was born in 1898.

Farnum appeared in multiple Academy Award for Best Picture winners: The Life of Emile Zola (1937), Going My Way (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), All About Eve (1950), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) and Around the World in 80 Days (1956).

On July 4, 1961, Farnum died of cancer at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, at the age of 83.[1]

A Stormy Knight ad in 1917

Selected filmography

The Winged Mystery (1917)






See also


  1. ^ a b "Actor Franklyn Farnum Dies at 83 of Cancer". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. July 5, 1961. p. Part I, p 2. Retrieved January 23, 2019 – via
  2. ^ a b "Franklyn Farnum". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on January 15, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2019.