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Michele Willens Headshot

FACE IT: Let's Be Frank About Mia

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It's time Mia Farrow got the credit she deserves. I don't mean as an actress, which I think she earned via her long relationship with Woody Allen. No, I mean as a woman who obviously has a lot more substance than her waifish demeanor has often led us to assume.

Not that I, like millions of other Boomers, didn't try very hard to emulate that seductive frailty. I still remember the day I decided to cut my hair off for the first time in years, temporarily trading in my Baez locks for Mia's looks. Of course, we all thought she looked amazing, but it was more than that, even back then. There seemed to be real strength under those tiny bones. After all, her hair came off as her own protest against her then-husband -- and apparently ongoing lover -- and maybe even her son's father, Frank Sinatra. Hey, when was the last time a woman dared to do that without fear of waking up with a dead horse in the bed?

But I digress. What this is really about is serious "men-vy," salivating over the males in Mia's life. We never did quite get how the hell that 19-year-old soap star nabbed the biggest singer in the world. Even if we didn't love Frank, we had to wonder and admire. Then, there was walking into the home of the brilliant composer Andre Previn for a visit and soon after, breaking up his marriage and having his children. I don't think I even knew who Previn was at the time, but I knew he was a catch and this tiny temptress seemed even more remarkable.

Then, of course there was Woody, who himself has amazed us with his bevy of beauties, including Diane Keaton. (Who did the same with Pacino and Beatty -- I think there is a Board game here). That was a long relationship, though far from a traditional one. They never lived together, he watched as a rainbow coalition of needy kids entered her life (running off with one of them) and she apparently enjoyed a sexually active divorce from, and with, Frank.

I truly believe we can judge a person by the lovers in their lives, and Mia has quietly maintained at LEAST intense friendships over the years with the likes of Vaclav Havel, Philip Roth and Tom Stoppard. These are arguably among the most interesting men of the last century -- award-winning writers, playwrights, presidents! And they all have adored Mia. This is clearly not just because she still looks like a lost child who needs protecting. Enough with that misconception already.

There was also the possible misconception among many good and fair people that Mia has always had a screw loose: The ever-growing brood (not so unlike Angelina on that front); the behavior in courtrooms; the often weird clothing (I truly thought she was a bag lady 23 years ago when her son -- yes, Ronan -- and my daughter ended up one early evening in a Central Park playground). Perhaps even now, with her sly implication that the son everyone thought was Woody's may have instead been Frank's.

Which brings us to that son who, I think we all agree, is the most beautiful, endearing, intellectually off-the-charts and humanity-minded young man in history. Now, someone raised him well and it wasn't Frank or Woody or a woman with a screw loose.

Mia Farrow doesn't need our respect and FRANKly, has never seemed to ask for it. She has always done her own thing and made her own choices. I confess she was sort of my idol around Rosemary's Baby time, then I lost interest, enjoyed her in the Woody films and now kind of idolize her again. I mean, really? Frank, Woody, Philip, Andre, Tom and Vaclav? They can't all be wrong.