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Mike Farrell – Actor & Activist



Mike Farrell

Terre Haute starred Mike Farrell and Jim Parrack (best known for the television series, True Blood).

In Terre Haute, I was amazed by Mike Farrell’s outstanding performance as the writer James (a character based on Gore Vidal). I met Mike after the play, and he introduced me to actors, – Noah Wyle and Terre Haute co-star Jim Parrack. It was after sundown when Mike and I walked to a café nearby, a quaint little establishment with a musician playing in the background. We sat chatting over coffee, while I learned more about Mike’s remarkable life. An avid motorcycle enthusiast, Mike has owned quite a few different bikes and taken many cross-country road trips.

Jim Parrack (left) & Mike Farrell in the play Terre Haute

For years, Mike’s been an activist for peace, justice, and human rights. He contributes to making this world a better place. Mike uses his celebrity status for a worthwhile purpose. He is proactive in wanting to make a contribution and is the recipient of numerous humanitarian and activism awards. Since 1979, he has been the spokesperson for Concern / America, an international refugee aid and development organization. In this capacity he has visited refugee camps in Asia and Central America and disseminated information about Concern / America’s work worldwide.

Mike served as Co-Chair of Human Rights Watch in California from 1994 to 2004 and is now the Co-Chair Emeritus. He has travelled to many areas ravaged by famine, human rights violations, and war. Here are only a few of the trips Mike has made.

  • 1979- Refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border for Concern / America.
  • 1983- El Salvador as part of a human rights delegation.
  • 1985- Peace delegation to the USSR.
  • 1988- Trips to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and the occupied territories with the Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East.
  • 1994- Member of a delegation to Cuba to investigate the need for humanitarian assistance to educational and medical programs.
  • 2004- Trip to Honduras with the former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Robert White, as part of a campaign against illegal logging.

Mike opposes the death penalty, preferring the alternative of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. His activities in the anti-death penalty movement are extensive. Mike serves as President of Death Penalty Focus and is a member of the Advisory Board of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He has debated and spoken about the issue on many occasions and continues to work actively to gain the abolition of the death penalty.

Mike Farrell has worked on many activist campaigns.

Mike serves on the Advisory Board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. An organization dedicated to ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom. He also works to support animal rights, environmental issues, the rights of children, Immigration issues, and much more. He served his country in the Marines.
Together with partner Marvin Minoff, Mike formed Farrell/Minoff productions in 1985. One of their productions is Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams.

Mike Farrell and Shelley Fabares.

Mike is married to actress, Shelley Fabares. Shelley has a long list of acting credits, including being the star of ABC-TVs Coach. Shelley was also Elvis Presley’s co-star in three films, and she had a Number One hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1962 for “Johnny Angel,” which sold over a million copies. She was also in the Emmy winning drama, Brian’s Song (1971-72) where she played Brian Piccolo’s wife – a very famous and well-remembered role because of the awards the TV movie received – four Emmys. Piccolo was played by James Caan, and his best buddy was played by Billy Dee Williams.

Mike Farrell & Alan Alda in MASH.

Apart from being well known for playing Captain B. J. Hunnicut in the television series M*A*S*H for eight seasons, Mike wrote and directed several episodes, earning nominations for Director’s Guild and the Emmy Awards. He played Dr Jim Hansen in Providence for five seasons and has guest starred in many iconic television series, including McHale’s Navy, Lassie, The Monkees, I Dream of Jeannie, Daniel Boone, The Bill Cosby Show, Bonanza, The Six Million Dollar Man, Murder, She Wrote, Matlock, and Desperate Housewives, Supernatural, to name just a few.

Mike Farrell in a scene from Supernatural. From left: Jared Padalecki, Mike Farrell, Misha Collins & Jensen Ackles.

I consider Mike a wise and experienced man, and one of the best people to talk about how one can contribute. I asked Mike about his thoughts on contributing and making a difference:
“Making a “contribution” is a difficult concept- for some because it implies giving or putting out effort in an altruistic way. I think the important thing for people to understand is that we’re all stuck on this planet together and whether we know it or not we’re all contributing. The question becomes ‘what kind of contribution do you want to make?”
“If we choose to “stay uninvolved” with others, we contribute to the decline of some and the advance of those who want to gain and maintain power for themselves at everyone else’s expense.”

Mike Farrell attending the Hollywood Museum exhibition for former MASH co-star Loretta Swit. November 2017.

“If we choose to “stay uninvolved” with issues outside our personal circle, we contribute to the opportunity for those who want to pillage the earth’s riches, pollute its climate and trash our way of life for their own advantage.”
“So it’s important that every individual understand that she or he is responsible to some degree not only to himself or herself, but also to neighbors, to the earth, the climate, the growth or diminution of civilization, and, most of all, to the children and the future they represent.”
Mike sincerely believes we all have an obligation to get involved and do what we can even if we can only contribute a little.

“We are all contributing in one way or another. We just have to decide if we want our contribution to be a negative one or a positive one.”

“A person who makes a contribution of any kind always gets back more than she or he gives.“ Mike Farrell

I also asked Mike if he had any advice for people who were thinking of getting involved and making a difference:
“Yes. Do it. It doesn’t have to be a gigantic effort. That’s up to the individual. One can get involved with family and friends, with local efforts, with animals, with the elderly, with children, or one can do more and find ways to help out in the community, the city, state, country, or world. It’s really a matter of choice. But once a person gets involved a bit, he or she will see that it pays back in ways one might never have imagined. A person who makes a contribution of any kind always gets back more than she or he gives.”

Mike Farrell has used the power of celebrity to make a difference.

In what ways has making a contribution affected Mike Farrell’s life? He offers the following insight:
“In more ways than I can easily describe. It has introduced me to love; it has made me a bigger, brighter person, a man rich in many of the most important ways.”
So what are Mike’s proudest accomplishments and his goals for the future?
“My proudest accomplishments are my two children. My goals are continuing to work toward the creation of a world where we recognize and honor the value and dignity inherent in every human being.” Mike declared.

I encourage you to pick up a copy of Mike’s memoir: Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist. It is a fascinating and enjoyable read and a revealing look into the life of a truly remarkable and inspirational man– Mike Farrell.

(This article was originally published November 2012. Updated July, 2018).

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Olivia Newton-John battling cancer for the third time



Olivier Newton-John has revealed she is receiving treatment for her third bout of cancer as well as sharing details around a secret second fight that took place six years ago.
In her autobiography Don’t Stop Believin’ due to hit shelves tomorrow ahead of her 70th birthday on September 26, the Grease star writes candidly about the cancer treatments she has received since her initial diagnosis in 1992.
Facing her third battle, the super star singer is remaining positive.
“Cancer is something I will need to say on top of for the rest of my long life. I truly believe this will be my final round with cancer. I truly believe it will be like last time and I will go on with my life,” she writes in her autobiography.
In her memoir, the ‘Summer Nights’ singer says that she is relying on a mix of conventional and natural therapies to treat cancer and is currently receiving photon radiation therapy.

Olivier Newton-John with John Travolta in Grease.

The iconic singer also says that her husband John Easterling has created special strains of medicinal marijuana for his wife.
Discussing the alternative treatment, Newton-John writes, “This has helped me greatly with pain and sleep.”
“My dream is that it won’t be long before everyone has access to this healing medicine,” she added.

In the autobiography, the actress also states that she received chemotherapy during her first diagnosis only.
Speaking of her “secret” second bout of cancer, Newton-John reveals the diagnosis came about in May 2012 following a car accident involving her niece TottieGoldsmith.

Following the crash, the singer-songwriter continued to experience pain from a lump in her right shoulder where her seatbelt hit her. When doctors insisted that it was just a slight fracture, she sought a second opinion.
“I insisted on additional testing and found the bump was actually a recurrence of my breast cancer,” she writes.
Seeking treatment from a clinic in the United States, Newton-John says that the oestrogen-blocking medicine she was prescribed caused depression. As a result, she turned to her husband’s Amazon Herb Company as well as the oncology team at her Melbourne Cancer and Wellness Centre throughout 2012.

Speaking of her second breast cancer diagnosis, Newton-John told People last year, “I’m totally confident that my new journey will have a positive success story to inspire others! Love and light, Olivia.”

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Bill Daily: I Dream of Jeannie’s Major Healy dies aged 91



Bill Daily, the affable TV actor who starred as Major Roger Healey in I Dream of Jeannie as well as on The Bob Newhart Show, has died aged 91.
Daily’s son J. Patrick Daily confirmed the news, saying the sitcom veteran died on September 4. 

Daily, the affable TV actor who starred as Major Roger Healey in I Dream of Jeannie, has died aged 91.

The longtime Albuquerque resident was a staple on TV series of the 1960s through 1980s, notably as Bob Newhart’s daffy neighbour, airline pilot Howard Borden, from 1972 to 1978.

In the 1980s, he appeared as psychiatrist Dr Larry Dykstra on NBC’s ALF.

On I Dream of Jeannie, Daily co-starred with Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden on all five seasons of the NBC sitcom as Captain and then Major Healey, the best friend and fellow astronaut to Hagman.

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Burt Reynolds Dies at 82



Burt Reynolds, whose studliness, swagger and snappy patter have helped set TV and movie fans’ pulses racing for nearly half a century, has died. He was 82.

He died Thursday morning at Jupiter Medical in Florida, according to manager Erik Kritzer.

Reynolds had been battling health issues the past years. In 2013, the actor’s rep said he was in intensive care in a Florida hospital for treatment of flu symptoms, including dehydration.

In recent years, Reynolds was seen using a cane as he posed for photographs — he was spotted using one at his last major public appearance at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.

Reynolds blamed his limited mobility on doing his own stunts over the course of his career. Speaking on the Jonathan Ross Show on ITV, he said in 2015: “I did all my own stunts, which is why I can’t walk now.”

The actor, who has nearly 200 film and TV credits, starred in multiple successful films including 1974’s The Longest Yard, 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit, 1996’s Striptease and 1997’s Boogie Nights, the latter of which earned him an Oscar nomination.
While he was known for many big roles he is almost as well-known for the role he turned down, including Harrison Ford’s Star Wars role of Hans Solo, Richard Gere’s role in Pretty Woman, James Bond in the 007 movies, Bruce Willis’ role in Die Hard, and Jack Nicholson’s roles in both Terms of Endearment and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

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