From Co-Stars to Lifelong Partners: Mike Farrell’s Role as Caregiver to Shelley Fabares

Mike Farrell, renowned for his role as Captain B.J. Hunnicutt on MASH, tied the knot with his MASH co-star, Judy Farrell, and they were married for 20 years before he found love with Shelley Fabares. Judy appeared in eight episodes of the MAS*H television series, portraying the role of Nurse Able.

Judy and Mike got married in 1963 and settled in Laguna Beach, where she worked as a high school teacher, and he worked as a process server. They both moonlighted at the Laguna Playhouse. Mike eventually decided to pursue acting full-time, and the couple lived on Judy’s income while he pursued producers and casting directors.

After three years of marriage, the couple separated for a year due to blurred communication. Mike explained that when they got back together, they were more accepting of each other. Since then, they have been able to recognize danger signs and tackle them before they become a problem.

The couple had two children, Erin and Michael, and Judy nursed both children for nine months. The Farrells took their children everywhere with them, and they faced criticism from friends who felt that the children should be disciplined and farmed out to babysitters. However, Mike and Judy did not believe in disciplining their children too much and preferred to be there for them whenever they needed them.

Mike met his second wife, Shelley Fabares, in 1970 when she made a guest appearance on his show “The Interns.” They did not begin their relationship until 12 years later, when they met again at a CBS affiliates convention.

In 1983, Shelley Fabares and Mike Farrell found themselves single after going through divorces. They met each other at a convention and Farrell asked Fabares out for coffee. Later on, he invited her to see a collection of his photographs and films from a trip to Central America. Within a year, Farrell proposed to Fabares in a restaurant in Topanga Canyon, and she accepted. They tied the knot in 1984 in the home of Fabares’ aunt, veteran actress Nanette Fabray, in Pacific Palisades, California. The beginning of their marriage wasn’t easy, as Farrell’s two children from his previous marriage initially struggled to accept Fabares as their new stepmom. However, with love, patience, and courage, they were eventually able to create a blended family.

During the early years of their marriage, Fabares had to deal with the illnesses of two important women in her life. Her close friend Donna Reed, who played her TV mom on “The Donna Reed Show,” was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died in 1986. Meanwhile, Fabares’ mother began showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and had to be placed in a nursing home. During this trying time, Farrell provided her with unwavering support, and she considers him her “safe harbor.” Farrell has since become involved in prison reform and human-rights campaigns worldwide, while Fabares has become active in fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Despite the challenges they have faced, Fabares and Farrell’s love story has stood the test of time. They have been married for 37 years and continue to support each other in all their endeavors, whether personal or professional.

Shelley Fabares and Mike Farrell, who co-starred in the TV sitcom “Coach,” have a strong and enduring marriage. Their colleagues have praised the couple, with Craig T. Nelson noting that the usual rules of showbiz don’t apply to them because they are friendly people with superior intellect. Bill Fagerbakke, another co-star, even speculated that they never argue, but Fabares has admitted to having ferocious fights.

The couple’s relationship has been tested in the face of illness. In 1994, Fabares fell through the floor joists of her under-construction home, breaking all the ribs on the left side of her body. The incident had severe repercussions, and she later needed a liver transplant. Although her liver counts had remained above average, they seemed to plateau after some years. However, in 1999, she experienced a severe oesophageal bleed linked to progressive liver failure, and her liver had failed to the point that medicine could not reverse it. Doctors advised her that she needed a transplant or could have another fatal bleed anytime.

Mike became her full-time caregiver during this difficult time, and Fabares eventually came to accept that the transplant was necessary for her survival. Her spouse’s unwavering support and love helped her through the trying times, and their marriage continues to be strong. As Fabares has noted, Mike grounds her, and she pulls him out when he needs it, making for a perfect mix.

In 1999, Shelley Fabares was placed on the waiting list for a liver transplant, knowing that the wait could be lengthy. Unfortunately, the odds were against her, with over half of the people on the transplant list not surviving long enough to receive an organ. Despite the strain and stress of the situation, Fabares had accepted her fate and was living on borrowed time. She described the experience as physically, psychologically, and spiritually challenging.

During her wait for a donor organ, Fabares and her husband, Mike Farrell, received several false alarms through her pager, causing them immense anxiety. Eventually, they learned to ignore the pager and focus on their own well-being. As time went on, Fabares’ condition worsened, and she became exhausted, sleeping for most of the day. The wait finally ended on October 23, 2000, when the pager went off, and the transplant was a success.

Despite the harrowing experience, Fabares said that she has been changed for the better. While she wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone, she considers herself blessed for what she has learned about herself and life. She is especially grateful for her husband, Mike, who was her full-time caregiver during her illness, accompanying her to every doctor’s appointment. Their love only grew stronger throughout the ordeal, and Fabares is now healthy and happy, 23 years later.

Overall, Shelley Fabares and Mike Farrell’s story is a testament to true love and the resilience of the human spirit. It proves that people who love each other can weather any storm, and come out even stronger on the other side.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *