Sharon Farrell, Actress in ‘It’s Alive,’ ‘Marlowe’ and ‘The Reivers,’ Dies at 82

Sharon Farrell, Actress in ‘It’s Alive,’ ‘Marlowe’ and ‘The Reivers,’ Dies at 82

Sharon Farrell, who starred as the mother of a murderous infant in It’s Alive and contributed strong supporting turns opposite James Garner and Steve McQueen, respectively, in the 1969 films Marlowe and The Reivers, has died. She was 82.

Farrell died unexpectedly May 15 of natural causes at a hospital in Orange County, her son, Chance Boyer, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Farrell also played a movie hairstylist in Richard Rush‘s The Stunt Man (1980), the ex-wife of Chuck Norris’ Texas Ranger in Lone Wolf McQuade (1983) and the mother of the cheerleader portrayed by Amanda Peterson in Can’t Buy Me Love (1987).

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On television, Farrell recurred as Det. Lori Wilson on the final season (1979-80) of CBS’ Hawaii Five-O and was Florence Webster, mother of Tricia Cast’s Nina Webster, on the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless from 1991-97.

In the horror thriller It’s Alive (1974), written and directed by Larry Cohen and featuring special effects make-up from Rick Baker, Farrell’s Lenore Davis feverishly tries to protect the hideously deformed child she just had, even though the infant has escaped from the hospital and is killing people around town.

Farrell sets the story in motion in Marlowe when her character, a Kansas woman named Orfamay Quest, hires private eye Philip Marlowe (Garner) to find her brother, and she played the love interest of McQueen’s Boon Hogganbeck in The Reivers, directed by Mark Rydell.

Sharon Farrell and James Garner in 'Marlowe'

Sharon Farrell with James Garner in the 1969 film ‘Marlowe’

Courtesy Everett Collection

Sharon Forsmoe was born on Christmas Eve in 1940 in Sioux City, Iowa. She joined the American Ballet Company, worked in a road production of Oklahoma! and moved to New York, where she acted and modeled.

She made her film debut alongside Elaine Stritch in Kiss Her Goodbye (1959), then danced on Broadway in 1960 in Josh Logan’s There Was a Little Girl, starring Jane Fonda and Dean Jones.

In 1962, Farrell starred alongside Nick Adams on the short-lived NBC newspaper drama Saints and Sinners and appeared with Tony Curtis and Suzanne Pleshette in the comedy film 40 Pounds of Trouble.

Farrell was quite busy with TV guest-starring roles over the decades, showing up on everything from My Favorite Martian, Wagon Train, Gunsmoke, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Wild Wild West to The F.B.I., The Six Million Dollar Man, McCloud, Police Woman, Matlock and JAG.

Her film résumé also included A Lovely Way to Die (1968), Not With My Wife, You Don’t! (1966), Jacqueline Susann’s The Love Machine (1971) and Night of the Comet (1984).

In the 2018 book Bruce Lee: A Life, author Matthew Polly notes that the martial arts legend and McQueen were involved in “a love triangle” with Farrell that resulted in Lee and McQueen not doing a movie together.

Farrell also had relationships with actors Andrew Prine and John F. Boyer, producer Ron DeBlasio and director Dale Trevillion, but she never married them or anyone else, her son noted. “That’s something they do in Hollywood, to say that they’re married,” he said.

In addition to Chance, who played a surfer on the 1991-93 syndicated TV series Harry and the Hendersons and was on General Hospital and in Frank Marshall’s Arachnophobia (1990), survivors include her grandson, Wayde, and daughter-in-law Mandi.

Sharon Farrell

Sharon Farrell in 1970

Ron Thal / TV Guide / courtesy Everett Collection