Wednesday, August 29, 2012

RIP Steve Franken

Steve Franken died on August 24, 2012. Born Steven Robert Franken in Brooklyn, New York, he was the son of a Hollywood press agent. His first screen role was in 1958 as "Willie" in CBS' Playhouse 90 dramatic series. Producer Rod Amateau saw him in a Los Angeles stage production of Say Darling and cast him as playboy dilettante Chatsworth Osborne, Jr., on the CBS series "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis". Franken appeared as a recurring guest in numerous episodes beginning midway through the first season and continuing through the fourth, from 1960 to 1963. Franken attributed the character's look of pained condescension to an ulcer he had suffered since age 14, when his mother died.

Feeling typecast, he sought out villainous roles but also played another rich wastrel role on the short-live sitcom Tom, Dick and Mary, and went on to a long career as a television and film character actor.

Immediately after the cancellation of Dobie Gillis, Franken was cast in the supporting role of Lieutenant Samwell "Sanpan" Panosian in the NBC series The Lieutenant, the first television series created by Gene Roddenberry. He also played other military roles, such as a decorated US flyer turned arms dealer and traitor in "The Gun Runner Raid" episode of The Rat Patrol and in Disney's Follow Me, Boys! as a P.O.W. lieutenant. He appeared in at least six episodes of ABC's Bewitched in various roles from 1966 to 1971, as George Barkley; Juke, the Carlotta-domineered son; Orvis the poodle-like alien; Cousin Henry (Uncle Arthur's son Henry), and other characters.

Franken appeared as the drunken waiter Levinson in the 1968 The Party, alongside Peter Sellers. He appeared on Love American Style from 1970-1973. He appeared as Officer Albert Porter in three episodes of NBC's Adam-12 from 1971-1972. In 1979, he starred as Tom Voorhies in Disney's The North Avenue Irregulars. He appeared again with Peter Sellers in 1980 as Pete Williams in the mystery film The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu. He was as an actor/director on many episodes of the religious TV anthology series Insight.

In 2002 and 2003, he provided voices for Law and Order computer games.

FRANKEN, Steve (Steven Robert Franken)
Born: 5/27/1932, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 8/24/2012, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Steve Franken's westerns - actor:
The Rebel (TV) - 1961 (Ruck)
The Wild Wild West (TV) - 1966 (LeFou)
The Big Valley (TV) - 1968 (bank teller)
Westworld - 1973 (technician)
The Missouri Breaks - 1976 (The Lonesome Kid)

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