John Lenorak Farrow Dies At 64



Sad news to report.

I received an e-mail yesterday from the wife of John Lenorak Farrow, informing me of his passing last Saturday. John was in Fort Bragg, California and died suddenly from an unexpected heart attack. He leaves behind his wife, and two daughters.

For those of you that are familiar with my investigation, it was determined that the film director, John Farrow, while married to actress Maureen O’Sullivan had an affair with Lillian Lenorak in 1945. Lillian became pregnant and, John Lenorak Farrow Jr. was born in September, 1946. John L. Farrow, is also the half-brother of Mia Farrow.

John passed away and the relatively young age of 64

John & Lillian Lenorak circa 1954


Lillian was a dancer with the Ruth St. Denis School of Dance, in Hollywood 


John Lenorak Farrow Black Dahlia Investigation’s Youngest Witness

During my ongoing investigation, I had several occasions to speak briefly with John L. Farrow. On both occasions, I was impressed by his sensitivity and gentle nature. He was a man who had seen and suffered much pain.

First came his witnessing of the assault of his mother by my father, George Hodel at our Franklin House in 1950, when he was 3 1/2 years of age. (See FAQ 11 for the full details as related by Santa Barbara policewoman, Mary Unkefer who rescued Lillian & John Lenorak.from George Hodel’s residence.

Then, at age 13, while in military school he was notified that his mother had been kidnaped and brutally murdered in Palm Springs. 

It wasn’t until he was an adult that he would learn that his actual biological father was film director, John Farrow. (Interestingly, the person providing John with the information was Joe Barrett,a key witness in both the Black Dahlia and the 1950 assault incident by George Hodel against his mother, Lillian Lenorak. John then followed-up on the Barrett disclosures and was able to confirm the truth of it.) 

Vietnam – PTSD

After the major traumas of his childhood John at 19, was called to serve his country in Vietnam. I will let his wife, Rosanna’s email to me describe those years:

Dear Steve,

 Your response about John’s sudden death was very touching to me. I 
agree with you that it takes incredible strength of character for a  
human being to overcome a tragic past such as his, and especially  
still become a kind loving and devoted husband, a tender father and a 
great and fun-loving friend to many. He worked very hard at having  
some measure of joy and happiness, however,  it was not at all  
an easy journey for him, just so you know, nor always an easy one for  

 As if his sad childhood was not enough….You wrote that you 
felt you knew him but also knew you didn’t, so I want to share this  
important information about his life that you don’t seem to know 
about John. (Maybe because he did not tell you, or maybe you didn’t  
chose to mention it)

John was a combat veteran in Vietnam, and he was  seriously affected with PTSD during his lifetime. He was in receipt  of a 100% veterans compensation for severe PTSD, a disability pension  that he received 6 years ago, even though he suffered terribly from  PTSD most of his adult life starting after his intense service in  

 He was in and out of vet centers and veterans’ counseling  offices over the years. However, he did not apply for his benefits  that were certainly his due for decades. It was with my encouragement  and help that he finally allowed himself to get the help he deserved. 

He was drafted in 1965 at age 19, right out of high school. He chose  
to enlist in the Marine Corps rather than serve in the Army for  
personal reasons. He was sent to Vietnam right after boot camp, where  
he experienced a great deal of very hard combat…more than many  
veterans I’ve known, because the Marines in his battalion were 
deployed in more remote regions towards the DMZ, far for the comfort  
of military bases. John served honorably between 1966-1969. He was  
slightly injured on the outside and seriously injured where it was  
hidden. He never put in for his Purple Heart because he lost so many  
friends….brothers…he even lost his very best friend from high 
school, Steve. When he was discharged he moved back to Santa Barbara,  
but his was never the same. He was a sensitive….. His nerves were 
basically shot.

 I wanted you to know this because even considering the terrible  
things that happened to him in his childhood, there was more drama  
yet to come. More acts of personal bravery as well, and this one was  
personally most endearing….

After Vietnam John worked at a college  bookstore and started to read constantly. He chose political works,  biography, commentary, history and black history. He was never  college educated prior to the war, though he was a very intelligent  
man. These readings, the atmosphere of questioning the war on campus,  
the anger inside him……it all worked on his psyche; after he read 
the Autobiography of Malcolm X he told me he became convinced that 
the war in Vietnam was wrong….was evil.  He became very politicized 
and he joined VVAW  (Vietnam Veterans Against the War) a very  
outspoken, progressive Veterans’ group. He marched with fellow  
veterans who felt betrayed by their own country and politicians, and 
spoke out against the war he fought in, while still respecting and  
honoring those brave men and women who served their country.

There is more to say, but just know that the burdens he endured went  
beyond his childhood. Oddly enough it was John that made me laugh the  
most in this crazy life. I don’t know how I will cope with the 
absurdities now.

Rosanna Wilson Farrow


Despite these many psychological hardships, I am informed by Rosanna, that John was, “a gentle, loving man, the heart of our family, whom he was so devoted to.”  

It takes great strength of character to overcome the kind of shocks and traumas that we know John suffered both in childhood and as an adult and for him to rise out of those ashes and become a loving, nurturing husband and father.

Our hearts go out to his family in this time of loss and sadness..



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  1. Bud White on October 18, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Mr. Hodel,
    Officer Unkefer’s letter is, obviously, very troubling. It confirms, through Joe Barrett’s statements to her that bad things were happening at the Franklin House and, of course, that Miss Lenorak committed perjury to protect your father during the Tamar incest trial.
    I am wondering if you can decipher exactly what took place that night? What was the milieu around the Franklin house? I imagine it that young women, living a little dangerously, were attracted to the wealthy, handsome doctor and his house where there was illicit sex and drugs. Am I wrong? Or was it more that your father dated individual women and brought them to his house rather than his house being a bohemian hang-out?

  2. Steve Hodel on October 20, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    I think it was a combo plate. Beautiful women coming and going all the time and his own private entertainment too. I don’t think it was like a “crash pad” environment where people would just stay for weeks on end. I think the Lillian Lenorak incident occurred within a few days. Yes, she perjured herself at the incest trial, but she also perjured herself in the few days preceding “the incident.” She testilied at the Charles Smith Dr. Ballard court trial in late January and that case was dismissed by the judge. I think, as Joe Barrett described it she came to the Franklin House, got dad’s rifle in the bedroom, waited for his return and threatened to go to the DA and also to shoot him because “he had to pay for what he had done.” She was disarmed and drugged maybe staying there several days (?) then George staged the “attempted suicide” and called Unkefer to pick her up. Lillian clearly expresses fear that George would harm her son, John, and I’m sure George also threatened to expose her involvement in the “abortion” as an accessory to Charles Smith etc. Lot we won’t know, but this much seems pretty clear. GHH excelled and had a quick mind which could easily control and extort others weaknesses. He knew and used all the angles.

  3. Annie on April 15, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    I happened to take a picture of John Farrow sufing at Caspar Beach in 2009.
    If his wife would like it, let me know.
    Joy! Annie

  4. Steve Hodel on April 16, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I’m sure she would love to have it. Pls forward to me at and I’ll pass it on to her. steve

  5. Susan Kindel Frank on August 10, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    John Lenorak was my Cousin Johnny. I have been attempting to find him and am so sad to know I’m too late. I would love to talk to Roseanna by email or phone. Can you help, Mr. Hodel?

  6. Steve Hodel on August 12, 2011 at 12:53 am

    You can contact her through the below public website.
    Best, Steve

  7. Jean E Atwood on April 22, 2019 at 2:56 am

    Isn’t interesting how lives cross paths? I was born and raised near Los Angeles in the 1950s. My father moved the family to Fort Bragg, California in the early 70s. He passed away in June 2005. I’m sure he crossed paths with John Farrow in a small community like Fort Bragg.

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