The Burning Bed is both a non-fiction book by Faith McNulty about battered housewife Francine Hughes, and a TV-movie adaptation written by Rose Leiman Goldemberg. The plot follows Hughes' trial for the murder of her husband, James Berlin "Mickey" Hughes, following her setting fire to the bed he was sleeping in at their Dansville, Michigan home on March 9, 1977, and thirteen years of physical domestic abuse at his hands.
On March 9, 1977, Francine Hughes, following thirteen years of physical domestic abuse at the hands of her husband, James Berlin "Mickey" Hughes, tells their children to put their coats on and wait for her in their car. She then pours gasoline around the bed in which Mickey is sleeping in their home in Dansville, Michigan, and sets the bed afire. After the house catches fire, Hughes drives with her children to the local police station in order to confess to the act. Hughes is tried for first degree murder, and is found by a jury of her peers to be not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. It is widely believed that the judge and the jury largely sympathized with Francine's plight and felt that Mickey's murder was a justifiable action.
Having adapted 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 Le Mat as Mickey Hughes.
The movie was filmed in Rosharon, Texas. The house that served as the Hughes' home 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.