The Catholic University of America

Feb. 8, 2011

New Archives Finding Aid Details Collection of Hollywood Producer 

  Maureen O’Sullivan and John Farrow at their 1936 wedding (Photo courtesty CUA Archives)


His life story could be made into a movie of its own: a young Australian hops on an American ship, sails across the Pacific, and ends up in California where he breaks into the movie business.

That young man was John Farrow, a film producer, director, and writer, as well as the focus of a new finding aid posted on the CUA Archives website. The finding aid — or an online inventory of a collection — details the Archives’ holdings of some of Farrow’s correspondence, notes, book drafts, newspaper clippings, photographs, manuscripts, and reviews of films he produced.

Farrow was nominated for an Academy Award for best director for his 1942 film “Wake Island.” In 1956, he won an Academy Award as co-writer of the screenplay for “Around the World in Eighty Days.”

Farrow, who converted to Catholicism as a young man, also wrote books. Several of these books had a Catholic focus. His book Pageant of the Popes, a history of the papacy, won the Catholic Literary Award of the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors. Farrow was named a knight of the grand cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre by Pope Pius XI.

Also included in the Farrow collection are several items that belonged to his wife, Maureen O’Sullivan, an actress who was well known for playing Jane in several Tarzan movies. Farrow and Sullivan had seven children, including actress Mia Farrow.

"Farrow was a rare man who combined zest for adventure, appreciation for family, and a longing for faith," says W. John Shepherd, associate archivist."Nearly 50 years after his death Farrow remains one of Australia's greatest filmmakers."

O’Sullivan donated the Farrow collection to Catholic University in 1978. Farrow died in 1963.

Farrow (left) with Lord Louis Mountbatten, a British naval commander during World War II and great uncle to Prince Charles. (Photo courtesty CUA Archives)


The finding aid was created as a collaborative effort by Shepherd and CUA library and information science student Sean Gleeson. Gleeson was part of an Archives Management class taught by Education Archivist Maria Mazzenga.

Two other students created finding aids as part of that class. Rev. Matt Allman, C.SS.R., worked with Shepherd on a finding aid for the papers of the Leadership Council of Catholic Laity/American Catholic Lay Network. Kate Dunnigan created one pertaining to the collection of Monsignor John Tracy Ellis, a professor of church history and theology at CUA.

To find out more about accessing collections in the Archives, visit


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