Domestic Violence Education in Pop Culture: THE BURNING BED

THE BURNING BED, based on the non-fiction book by Faith McNulty (1984)

Starring: Farrah Fawcett, Paul Le Mat, Richard Masur, Grace Zabriskie, Penelope Milford, and James T. Callahan

When domestic violence is portrayed in film due to a true story rather than a fictional novel, it is often hard for viewers to swallow. Such was, fortunately, not the case for The Burning Bed, which was the 17th highest rated movie to air on network television. The movie was based on the real-life story of battered housewife Francine Hughes who went on trial for murdering her abusive husband, James “Mickey” Hughes. When he was drunk and passed out, Francine Hughes set fire to the bed he was sleeping in on March 9, 1977, following thirteen years of physical abuse of her and her children. After setting the bed on fire, Francine piles her children into the car and turns herself in to the local police department. She is tried for first degree murder, but found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.

Hazel Moran: If you make a hard bed, you have to lay in it.


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