Peter LaFarge (bio)

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michael stelk

04.02.1999, 03:00:0004.02.99
I live in Colorado and I have been researching the life of Peter LaFarge
for my Colorado music site. In reading this newsgroup from time to time I
have noticed Peter work mentioned here and so included is a bio that was
written by his mother.

-michael stelk/Colorado music history site:


"Peter" La Farge was born in New York City, April 30th. 1931, the son of
Oliver LaFarge and Wanden Mathews LaFarge. He was named Oliver Albee LaFarge,
but somehow the 'Oliver' never stuck. His parents were divorced in 1935 and his
mother married Alexander F. Kane of Fountain, Colorado in 1940. Andy Kane being
a rancher, and the boys seeing cowboys and horses all around, decided that
'Oliver' was a sissy name and was called Pete at his request. Years later he
changed his name to Peter, by which he was known the rest of his life.
He went to Fountain Valley School, which was near the ranch, but became
severely bitten by the rodeo bug and left school before graduation.
As Andy Kane roped at rodeos and Pete, and his sister Povy, had been taken
to them for years, Pete decided he wanted to be part of it too and joined
the bronc riding group. At first he rode barebacks and did quite well, then
graduated to saddle broncs and rode at all the big shows in the country.
He didn't win a great deal and was frequently hospitalized but,
never-the-less, rode top horses and did a good job on a famous bronc at
Madison Square Garden in New York at one of the last rodeos to be given
there. He was tops as a "mugger" in wild horse races, and was in constant
demand by all the teams that entered this event. A mugger is the man that
holds the wild horse while the others get the saddle on--and Pete was
one of the best.
As his injuries mounted and doctors warned that he couldn't continue,
he decided to go to acting school at the Goodman School of the Theater
in Chicago. He spent two years there and went on to summer theaters
getting good supporting parts. In the early 50's he got a part on
Broadway in "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs". When it closed he was
offered the part of Oswald in King Lear in an off-Broadway production
and received favorable revues from the New York papers. He tired of
waiting for parts which were few and far between for young actors
and turned to singing.
There was an interlude in the Navy aboard the aircraft carrier Boxer
during the Korean war. The Boxer had one of those terrible explosions
and fires below decks which sometimes occur on carriers and although
Pete escaped physical injury, he never slept well again. To the end
of his life he had recurring nightmares of trying in vain to save his
friends from flames.
HIs talents were endless, it like putting a jet engine in a model T
Ford, they shook him to pieces. He painted extremely well and, had he
continued, would have made a name for himself, though he was basically
a poet and writer. He wrote several full length plays which have not
been produced, mostly because of the expense, however, they probably
will be. The songs he wrote himself show originality and some of the
lyrics are pure poetry. He was not a happy person within himself until
the last years of his life. He lived in New York, and the pressures
and frustrations were difficult for him. However, he finally conquered
them and was recording for Folkways, Columbia and Verve and was on the
threshold of the kind of success he wanted when he died in his sleep
on October 27th, 1965.

-Wanden M. Kane

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