JOHN LENORAK FARROW
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:
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
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
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..
REST IN PEACE JOHN LENORAK FARROW.