It being Halloween today, I decided to revisit a film I hadn't seen in some years - The Rocky Horror Picture Show. One of the things I enjoy about that film is it's full-tilt commitment to filling every inch of the screen with eccentricity. Many will spot the ubiquitous Christopher Biggins as one of 'the Transylvanians' at Frank N. Furter's castle, but did you know that a good deal of these characters were cast from the UGLY Agency, a theatrical agency that specialized in unique looking performers. One of whom was the glorious 5ft 2in, 240lb American ex-pat Fran Fullenwider who originally contacted the agency for work as a secretary but was simply too big (too full and wide in fact) to fit into the office!
'Fran Fullenwider (and that really is her name) isn't everyone's idea of a typical model. While other girls starve to be a Twiggy shape, Fran smiles all the way to the bank and carries on eating. Her figure is her fortune - and both seem to be growing steadily. "I used to diet all the time," says Fran. "I wanted to be lovely and thin and beautiful, but it never worked out that way. So in the last three years I have decided to be beautiful and fat" And fat means 415 pounds* and a 42-36-60 figure. Texas born Fran lives now in England, where her big interest is the theatre. She's had several parts on TV and in plays since graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Her only problem is finding parts to fit her. After appearing in a recent TV show (on the subject of food of course) Fran was deluged by fan mail. "I get constant streams of admiring letter and I try to answer them all, even marriage proposals" Fran has yet to accept any..."I have two boyfriends already," she says. Figure troubled ladies may find comfort in Fran's story. She's living proof that you can eat what you like, grow as big as you like - and remain radiantly happy"
*Note that this Pulp International article has added an extra 200 pounds to Fran's weight! As far as the internet has it, the biggest Fran Fullenwider got was between 286 -300 pounds. Opinions vary.
Fullenwider had moved from Texas to the UK as a child and was said to have given up dieting by the age of 21. As the above article shows, this proved a lucrative decision and Fullenwider gained an international career; working regularly not only in the UK, with roles in TV series such as The Sweeney, Doctor in Charge, The Basil Brush Show, Angels, and Wurzel Gummidge and films like The Mutations, The Monster Club (where she dances with Vincent Price) and Eat the Rich, but also as a model and actress in Italy, where she appeared in romantic comedies such as Una sera c'incontrammo, Melodrammore and L'affittacamere.
The most tantalising aspect of all in her Italian fame is the fact that Federico Fellini longed to work with her. They struck up a friendship when Fellini auditioned her for a part in his film Casanova and, although he did not cast her on that occasion, it remained a desire of his to do so in the right project right up until his death in 1993. Unfortunately, Fullenwider didn't outlive Fellini by that much either, passing away from a heart attack in 1997 at the age of just 51. Her last major role was in 1993's The House of the Spirits in which she starred opposite the likes of Jeremy Irons, Winona Rider, Meryl Streep and Glenn Close. However, she lives on with the enduring appeal and legacy of the mother of all cult films, The Rocky Horror Picture Show