SIOUX CITY | There’s so much to actress Sharon Farrell’s life, it’s amazing she could capture it all in one book.
Yet recently she released her memoir, “Sharon Farrell, Hollywood Princess from Sioux City, Iowa,” and covered a lot of territory.
Born in Sioux City, Sharon Forsmoe attended Central High School and attracted attention for plays she did as a teenager. In the late 1950s, determined to have a career in show business, she auditioned and landed her first film, “Kiss Her Goodbye.” It was shot in Cuba and provided an introduction to Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.
Looking for a marquee-friendly handle, she changed her name to Farrell – a mashup of her last name and her father, Darrel’s first name.
Bob Hope brought her to Los Angeles to film a TV pilot, but it didn’t sell. Instead, she landed plenty of episodic work in everything from “Gunsmoke” to “Naked City.” A string of parts in other shows and films led to “The Reivers,” a high-profile production starring Steve McQueen. Farrell wanted the role but producers told her she was too old. To prove she wasn’t, she doctored her birth certificate. “I changed it from 1940 to 1946,” she said during a visit to Sioux City, and she convinced Variety columnist Army Archerd to float the idea. It worked. In 1969, she was considered a frontrunner for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.
Farrell made the rounds of talk shows and landed on “The Tonight Show” where an off-hand remark about Sioux City attracted negative attention. She tried to correct the misperception but got no help from host Johnny Carson.
As a result, she stayed away from the city for several decades, returning to Sioux City in 2012 to renew old acquaintances and prove she harbored no ill will.