One of Farrah Fawcett’s most poignant and outstanding films was "The Burning Bed." This film about spouse abuse brought increased attention to domestic violence and remains part of Fawcett's legacy.
According to one writer who has recently examined the issue of domestic violence in relationship to the film The Burning Bed, Fawcett’s portrayal of the abused spouse made a decided contribution to public awareness and understanding of the problem. Fawcett introduced the notion of the film to director Robert Greenwald. The film was based on the true story of Francine Hughes in a story written by Faith McNulty called The Burning Bed. The story depicts Hughes’ experiences as an abused spouse, which ended when she set fire to her husband’s bed as he was sleeping. After that she took her children, then went to the police station where she made a full confession. During her trial she was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
To play this role, Fawcett had to surrender her glamorous image in order to portray the woman who was bruised and beaten and whose wounds were physically evident. According to the Examiner, Fawcett’s portrayal of Hughes was so gripping “the case truly became woven in the fabric of American culture.”
The Burning Bed brought recognition to Fawcett’s acting while at the same time it made domestic abuse particularly poignant and believable, according to the critics. One film critic made the following observation about the movie: “Director Robert Greenwald hits us with a painful and disarming portrait of the results of family violence. But Fawcett is shattering! She manages to project her character not only as someone to be pitied and as someone truly desperate but who, somewhere in all the demoralizing inflicted over 10 years, finds some courage within to end her vicitimization, even at the risk of a death sentence. And Fawcett's acting when her character takes the stand in her own defense is nothing less than riveting!”
Fawcett made public service announcements in advance of the film and afterward. Her contribution to awareness of domestic violence is something those who are abused and those who help the victims will remember, just as film critics remember Fawcett’s superior acting abilities that made the film a memorable one.