Don Francks

Active - 1959 - 2017  |   Born - Feb 28, 1932   |   Genres - Action, Drama, Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Canadian actor/singer Don Francks spent his formative performing years in his native country as a nightclub jazz vocalist, an all-night disc jockey, a member of a barbershop quartet called the Model T Four, and a trombonist in a country-western band. Despite all this activity, Francks was virtually unknown in the United States until 1960. At that time, a Canadian TV adventure series titled RCMP was syndicated regionally in the U.S. after a successful year's run above the border. Francks managed to attain a modest fan following in his handsome-hunk role as Constable Bill Mitchell. RCMP seemed to bode well for an American career, but Francks met a Waterloo of sorts when he was cast in the lead of the 1964 Broadway musical Kelly, which opened and closed on the same night and became a title synonymous with "disaster." Licking his wounds, Francks returned to his nightclub act, then in 1966 was cast in the Hollywood-filmed TV adventure series Jericho, the saga of a trio of secret agents sent behind German lines during World War II. The threesome consisted of an American, an Englishman and a Frenchman; Francks was the American, Franklin Shepard, a psychological warfare expert who dressed immaculately and took snuff. But with Batman and Daniel Boone as competition, Jericho took not snuff but a powder. It was back to Canadian TV spots and club dates for Francks until he was cast in the big-budget Hollywood musical Finian's Rainbow (1968), where, alas, he was effortlessly upstaged by Fred Astaire and Tommy Steele. Still popular in his own country, Don Francks supplemented his income in the '80s and '90s with Canadian-recorded cartoon voiceovers; his best showcase in this endeavor was on ABC's Ewoks-Droids Adventure Hour (1986).

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