Farmer died of esophageal cancer in 1970, at the age of 56.
Farmer's tumultuous life and career led to her being the subject of two films, In 1931, while a senior at West Seattle High School, Farmer entered and won 0 from The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, a writing contest sponsored by Scholastic Magazine, with her controversial essay "God Dies".
While a student at UW, Farmer starred in numerous plays, including Helen of Troy, Everyman, and Uncle Vanya.
In late 1934, she starred in the UW production of Alien Corn.
Later that year, Farmer was cast in her first "A" feature, Rhythm on the Range.
They invited her to appear in the Group Theatre production of Odets' play Golden Boy.Both of these films were sizable hits, and her portrayals of both the mother and daughter in Come and Get It were praised by the public and critics, with several reviews greeting Farmer as a new found star.Farmer was not entirely satisfied with her career, however.Farmer attempted an acting comeback, mainly appearing as a television host in Indianapolis on her own series, Frances Farmer Presents.Her final film role was in the 1958 drama The Party Crashers.In 1935, Farmer won a subscription contest for the leftist newspaper, The Voice of Action.