Philadelphia Inquirer: Mia Farrow to receive Marian Anderson Award

January 15th, 2011

Philadelphia Inquirer

Mia Farrow to receive Marian Anderson Award
January 15, 2011|By Carrie Rickey, Inquirer Movie Critic

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Mia Farrow, the actress and humanitarian whose persistent advocacy of human rights in sub-Saharan Africa has earned her international recognition, will receive the Marian Anderson Award in May, Mayor Nutter announced Friday.

The prize is named for the Philadelphia-born contralto who used her celebrity to effect social change. Since 1998, it has been given to entertainer/activists such as Bill Cosby, Sidney Poitier, and Gregory Peck. When Anderson (1897-1993), the celebrated African American singer, met with racial intolerance, she gracefully fought for social justice.

“This is such a prestigious award,” Farrow said Friday from her Connecticut home. “I accept it in the name of the men, women, and children I’ve met through my travels. . . . These are people who embody Miss Anderson’s tremendous courage, resilience, and humanity in the face of unspeakable adversity.”

Farrow is the porcelain beauty noted for her performances in more than 40 films, including Rosemary’s Baby, The Great Gatsby, and Hannah and Her Sisters. As an ambassador for UNICEF, the mother of 15 (11 of whom are adopted, and two of whom are deceased) has traveled extensively in crisis zones, such as Haiti and the Darfur region of Sudan.

As an eyewitness to the effects of devastation and civil war, Farrow has been called to testify before Congress and the United Nations. At hearings and in newspaper articles, she has advocated for children’s rights.

“Her work . . . in raising awareness for children in conflict-affected regions, and on behalf of refugees around the globe, is unparalleled,” Nutter said Friday.

On her website,, the 65-year-old actress provides context for her social activism and tries to help Americans understand how they may be connected to geopolitical events.

In a 2007 opinion piece for the Boston Globe, Farrow wrote of her horror that she had “inadvertently been helping to finance the genocide in Darfur.” She realized that her own pension had been in mutual funds that had investments in oil companies doing business with Sudan. President Omar al-Bashir was indicted in July by the International Criminal Court, charged with genocide and war crimes in Darfur.

In 2008, Farrow likewise took to task the government of China for “underwriting genocide in Darfur” by preserving its alliance with Sudan in order to “meet its massive oil needs.”
She has been in the forefront of raising awareness about economic and social challenges facing Africa, advocating that wealthier nations commit themselves to helping poorer countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals. These include reducing poverty and unacceptably high rates of maternal and infant mortality, and increasing access to education.

For her commitment, Farrow received the Refugees International Humanitarian Award in 2008 for “extraordinary service to refugees and displaced people,” and the Leon Sullivan International Service Award in 2009.

Farrow, daughter of the director John Farrow and the actress Maureen O’Sullivan, is also known for her relationships with Frank Sinatra, her first husband; AndrĂ© Previn, her second; and Woody Allen, with whom she made such films as The Purple Rose of Cairo.