Mark Frechette, a high school dropout of Quebecois ancestry from Fairfield, Connecticut, made his acting debut in Michelangelo Antonioni's controversial Zabriskie Point (1970). As Antonioni toured the U.S., experiencing cultural clash firsthand and shooting background footage, a talent scout saw Frechette, a carpenter, scream and throw a flowerpot at a woman on a Boston street. Antonioni immediately cast Frechette, a non-actor, in the movie's lead role: a college student, wrongfully hunted for the murder of a policeman during a campus uprising.
Throughout the filming, Frechette and the director disagreed bitterly about the script, while Frechette had an affair with co-star Daria Halprin. After the film, she joined Frechette in Mel Lyman's Boston commune, which supposedly had previously turned Frechette away, but accepted him after he was cast in Zabriskie Point (1970). He had been hospitalized twice for emotional problems, and several times arrested, prior to Zabriskie Point (1970). Lyman had been a member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. Frechette donated $60,000 from films to the commune. Halprin soon left the Fort Hill commune.
Frechette quickly starred in two Italian movies, then was arrested for a 1973 bank robbery a few blocks from the commune, in which Christopher "Hercules" Thien, one of Frechette's two fellow cult member accomplices, was killed. Frechette's own gun had no bullets. After his arrest, he explained the bank robbery: "It would be like a direct attack on everything that is choking this country to death". In 1975, while serving a 6-15 year prison sentence, he died in an apparent weightlifting accident in the prison gym, when a 150-pound barbell fell on his neck, killing him.