The Burning Bed is the name of both a non-fiction book by Faith McNulty about battered housewife Francine Hughes, and the TV-movie adaptation written by Rose Leiman Goldemberg.

After thirteen years of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband, James Berlin ("Mickey") Hughes, she set fire to the bed he was sleeping in at their Dansville, Michigan home on March 9, 1977. Mickey Hughes was killed and the house destroyed in the resulting inferno.


The Burning Bed

On the night of the fire, Hughes told her children to put their coats on and wait for her in the car. She then started the fire with gasoline which was poured around the bed that Mickey Hughes was sleeping in. After the house had caught fire, Hughes drove with her children to the local police station in order to confess. Hughes went to court in Lansing, Michigan, and was found by a jury of her peers to be not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.

Film adaptation

The Burning Bed

Having turned the book into a made-for-television movie, Goldemberg's screenplay, The Burning Bed, premiered on NBC on October 8, 1984. Directed by Robert Greenwald, the film starred Farrah Fawcett as Francine Hughes and Paul LeMat as Mickey Hughes.

The movie was filmed in Rosharon, Texas. The house that served as the house of Farrah Fawcett's character still stands today.


The movie premiered with a household share of 36.2 ranking it the 17th highest rated movie to air on network television.


  • Farrah Fawcett as Francine Hughes
  • Paul Le Mat as James Berlin "Mickey" Hughes
  • Richard Masur as Aryon (Arjen) Greydanus
  • Grace Zabriskie as Flossie Hughes
  • Penelope Milford as Gaby
  • Christa Denton as Christy Hughes, age 12
  • James T. Callahan as Berlin Hughes
  • Gary Grubbs as District Attorney
  • David Friedman as Jimmy Hughes, age 10
  • David Andrews as Wimpy Hughes
  • James Hampton as Police Witness
  • Virgil Frye as Virg
  • Dixie K. Wade as Hazel Moran
  • Heather Rich as Christy age 6
  • Justin Gocke as Jimmy age 4
  • Elizabeth Lyn Fraser as Nicole Hughes
  • Jeremy Ross as Judge Hotchkiss


The Burning Bed

External links

  • The Burning Bed at the Internet Movie Database
  • The Burning Bed at AllMovie
  • The Burning Bed at the TCM Movie Database
  • Lansing State Journal - Unmasking the Violence [1]

The Burning Bed

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