About Michael Joseph "Mike" Farrell
Michael Joseph "Mike" Farrell (born February 6, 1939) is an American actor, best known for his role as Captain B.J. Hunnicutt on the television series M*A*S*H (1975–83). He is an activist for political causes.
Farrell was a producer of Patch Adams (1998) starring Robin Williams, and has starred on the television series Providence (1999–2002). He appeared as Milton Lang, the father of Victor Lang (John Slattery), husband of Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) on Desperate Housewives (2007–2008). He was seen in the tenth season episode "Persona" of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Farrell, one of four children, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the son of Agnes and Joe Farrell. When he was two years old, his family moved from South St. Paul to Hollywood, California, where his father worked as a movie studio carpenter. Farrell attended West Hollywood Grammar School with Natalie Wood, and graduated from Hollywood High School, served in the United States Marine Corps, and worked at various jobs before his acting career.
During the 1960s, Farrell guest-starred in a few series. Notable roles included Federal Agent Modell in the episode "Monkee Chow Mein" on The Monkees in 1967, astronaut Arland in the episode "Genie, Genie, Who's Got the Genie?" on I Dream of Jeannie, and an Army doctor in the episode "The Bankroll" of Combat!. In 1968 he originated the continuing role of Scott Banning in the NBC soap opera Days of our Lives. In 1970 he starred as one of the young doctors in the CBS prime-time series The Interns, in a cast led by Broderick Crawford. In 1971 he played the assistant to Anthony Quinn in ABC's The Man and the City. In 1973, while under contract to Universal Studios, Farrell starred with Robert Foxworth in The Questor Tapes. During the years under contract, he guest starred in a number of shows, including Banacek and Marcus Welby, M.D., and starred in a television pilot with Jane Wyman, which did not sell. Farrell also had a cameo role in the 1967 classic The Graduate.
M*A*S*H (1975–83) and later roles
Farrell's big break came in 1975 when Wayne Rogers unexpectedly departed M*A*S*H at the end of the third season. Farrell was quickly recruited for the newly created role of B.J. Hunnicutt, along with co-series' lead, Harry Morgan, who replaced McLean Stevenson, also at the end of the third season. The most coincidental thing is both Farrell and Morgan were big fans of the M*A*S*H series during its early seasons before they both joined the cast, with Morgan having also appeared as "General Bartford Hamilton Steele" in the season-three episode "The General Flipped at Dawn" (for which he won an Emmy Award for Best Guest Role in a Primetime Comedy Series). He stayed with the series for its remaining eight years on the air. During that time, Farrell wrote five episodes and directed four.
His favorite episodes are "Welcome to Korea" and "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler".
In an interview recently Farrell discussed the byplay between his M*A*S*H co-stars, David Ogden Stiers and Harry Morgan: "David was like a rock, when he was concentrating, when he was being Charles Emerson Winchester III, you just couldn't get him, except for Harry Morgan. Harry could look at David and reduce him to a puddle of tears, without turning an eye. David said, 'When he [Harry] looks at me and flare those nostrils; and he would be gone,' it would be such a wonderful thing to see this great big guy just reduced to a giggling idiot by Harry, but unfortunately, all I could do is to tell you, we had great fun doing the show; and much of it was laughing at some silly gag that one of us had pulled on the others." Farrell continued to stay in touch or to have dinner with Morgan until Morgan's death on December 7, 2011. Farrell said of him: "He was an imp. As Alan once said, there's not an un-adorable bone in the man's body. He was full of fun, and he was smart as a whip." Prior to Morgan's death, he also added of his mentor's six-decade career: "He was one of the foundational pieces of the industry. Such honors routinely go to stars, but also belong to Morgan and other character actors who provide 'the grit and the substance and the context' for so many films and TV shows," to sum it up, he stated: "Harry has been that, par excellence, for many years."
Since M*A*S*H, Farrell has guest starred in Murder, She Wrote; Justice League; Matlock; Mannix; Desperate Housewives; and many others. Farrell played Jonathan Kent in the Superman (1996) animated series, with wife Shelley Fabares playing Martha Kent. He also hosted several "National Geographic Presents" specials and starred in a number of TV movies, including Memorial Day (which he co-produced); Sex and the Single Parent; Prime Suspect; Choices of the Heart; Private Sessions; Vanishing Act; A Deadly Silence; The Price of the Bride; Incident at Dark River; The Whereabouts of Jenny; and Silent Motive. He has done two one-man shows: JFK, a One Man Show for PBS and, on stage, a national tour of David W. Rintels' play Clarence Darrow. In 1983 Farrell starred in the movie Memorial Day.
In 1985 Farrell partnered with film and television producer Marvin Minoff to create Farrell/Minoff Productions, a production company. Together, Farrell and Minoff produced numerous television movies. Farrell and Minoff also executive produced two feature films during their partnership, Dominick and Eugene, a 1988 Orion Pictures film which earned actor Tom Hulce a Golden Globe nomination for best actor. The pair also produced 1998's Patch Adams starring Robin Williams. Farrell and Minoff's professional partnership lasted more than twenty-five years, until Minoff's death in November 2009.
In 1999 Farrell was given the part of veterinarian Jim Hansen, the father of the lead character Dr. Sydney Hansen, portrayed by Melina Kanakaredes, on the NBC-TV melodrama series Providence.
In his portrayal of Sydney's father, Farrell played opposite Concetta Tomei, who portrayed his wife, Lynda Hansen. Tomei's character died during the first episode of the series, but continued to appear as a ghost/memory in vignettes of later episodes.
The show became a big hit with the critics and in the Nielsen ratings. Farrell appeared in 64 of the 92 episodes before its cancellation in December 2002.
Even before he was well-known, Farrell was an activist for many political and social causes. He has worked with Human Rights Watch, was on the Board of Advisors of the original Cult Awareness Network, and has been president of Death Penalty Focus for more than ten years, being the first person to be awarded its Human Rights Award, subsequently named after him, in 2006. He received PETA's Humanitarian Award in 2001, and narrated a public service campaign for them about animal abuse.
In 1985 Farrell was in Central America, helping refugees from the civil war in El Salvador. A guerrilla commander, Nidia Diaz, had been taken prisoner. She needed surgery, but no Salavadoran doctor dared to help her, so Amnesty International recruited a foreign doctor. Farrell was present as an observer, but was in his words, "shanghaied into assisting with the surgery" when the doctor said his help was needed. The in-prison surgery was successful and Diaz went on to be one of the signatories of the Chapultepec Peace Accords (the peace treaty ending the war). She also served in the Constituent Assembly of El Salvador and in the Central American Parliament.
In 2006 Farrell appeared with Jello Biafra and Keith Gordon in the documentary Whose War?, examining the U.S. role in the Iraq War.
Farrell wrote an autobiography, Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist (ISBN 1933354089), published in 2007. The book covers his working-class childhood in West Hollywood, his break into show business, his personal life, and his increasing involvement in politics and the human rights movement in the United States, Cambodia, and Latin America. His second book, "Of Mule and Man," is a journal of his 5-week, 9,000-mile drive around the U.S. to promote the paperback edition of his first book.
He married actress Judy Farrell in 1963. They were divorced in 1983. They have two children, Michael and Erin. On M*A*S*H, Hunnicutt's daughter also was named Erin.
On December 31, 1984, he married actress Shelley Fabares. Her sister "gave her away" at her marriage to him.
Farrell has been active in the Screen Actors Guild. In 2002 he was elected First Vice President of the Guild in Los Angeles and served in the post for three years.