Jonathan Frakes

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Jonathan Frakes
Jonathan Frakes Photo Op Louisville Supercon 2018.jpg
Jonathan Scott Frakes

(1952-08-19) August 19, 1952 (age 69)
Education Pennsylvania State University (BFA)
OccupationActor, director
Years active1978–present
(m. 1988)

Jonathan Scott Frakes (born August 19, 1952) is an American actor and director. He is best known for his portrayal of Commander William Riker in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and subsequent films and series. Frakes also hosted the anthology series Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction , and was the voice for David Xanatos in the Disney television series Gargoyles . In June 2011, he narrated the History Channel documentary, Lee and Grant.


Frakes directed while starring in Star Trek: First Contact as well as Star Trek: Insurrection . He has directed more than 70 television episodes, including episodes of several Star Trek television series and The Orville . He is the author of the novel The Abductors: Conspiracy. [1]

Early life

Frakes was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, the son of Doris J. (née Yingling) and Dr. James R. Frakes. His father was a professor of English literature at Lehigh University from 1958 to 2001, where he was the Edmund W. Fairchild Professor in American Studies. He also was a critic for the New York Times Book Review and book editor until his death in 2002. [2] Frakes had a younger brother, Daniel, who died in 1997 from pancreatic cancer. [3]

Frakes grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. A 1970 graduate of Bethlehem's Liberty High School, he ran track and played with the Liberty High School Grenadier Band. [4] Frakes received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Arts at Pennsylvania State University in 1974, where he was a member of the Thespians.


Early work

For a time in the 1970s, Frakes worked for Marvel Comics, appearing at conventions in costume as Captain America. [5] Frakes moved to New York City and became a member of the Impossible Ragtime Theater. In that company, Frakes did his first off-Broadway acting in Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape directed by George Ferencz. His first Broadway appearance was in Shenandoah . At the same time, he landed a role in the NBC soap opera The Doctors . [6] When his character was dismissed from the show, Frakes moved to Los Angeles and had guest spots in many of the top television series of the 1970s and 1980s, including The Waltons in an episode called "The Legacy"; Eight Is Enough ; Hart to Hart ; The Dukes of Hazzard ; Matlock ; Quincy, M.E. in "The Face of Fear"; and Hill Street Blues .

He played the part of Charles Lindbergh in a 1983 episode of Voyagers! titled "An Arrow Pointing East". In 1983, he had a role in the short-lived NBC prime time soap opera Bare Essence (which also starred his future wife Genie Francis), and a supporting role in the equally short-lived primetime soap Paper Dolls in 1984. [6] He also had recurring roles in Falcon Crest [6] and the miniseries North and South . Frakes appeared in the 1986 miniseries Dream West .

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

In 1987 Frakes was cast in the role of Commander William T. Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation . [7] He was one of only two actors to appear in every episode (the other being Patrick Stewart). While appearing on the show, he was allowed to sit in on casting sessions, concept meetings, production design, editing, and post-production, which gave him the preparation he needed to become a director. [8] He directed 8 episodes of the show [9] and a total of 21 episodes across the Star Trek franchise. [10] After the TV series ended in 1994, he reprised his role in the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies, two of which ( Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection ) he also directed. [11]

As well as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Frakes has made appearances in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine , Star Trek: Voyager , Star Trek: Enterprise , Star Trek: Picard , and Star Trek: Lower Decks , making him the only Star Trek regular to appear on six different Star Trek series. He has also directed episodes in five of the series (TNG, DS9,VOY, DIS, and PIC). [10]

He is also one of six Star Trek actors (the other actors being Kate Mulgrew, Michael Dorn, George Takei, Avery Brooks and Majel Barrett) to lend their voices to the video game Star Trek: Captain's Chair, reprising his role as Riker when users visit the Enterprise-D bridge featured in the game.

After Star Trek

Frakes in 2005 Jonathan Frakes cropped1.jpg
Frakes in 2005

Wanting to branch out from the Star Trek franchise, Frakes turned down the opportunity to direct Star Trek: Nemesis in favor of directing the family film Clockstoppers , which was another hit. [8] However, his next film, Thunderbirds , was a box office bomb which he has said single-handedly almost destroyed what had been a successful directing career: "[My] name was taken off the lists ... I went from 60 to zero. It was a wake-up for me. I had been so positive, and so blessed, and so fortunate." [8] It would be several years before Frakes was given another opportunity to direct for television, and Thunderbirds remains the last time he was placed at the helm of a theatrical release.

Much of Frakes' acting work after Star Trek has been animation voice acting, most notably voicing the recurring role of David Xanatos in the animated series Gargoyles , and he provided the voice of his own head in a jar in the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before". He had a small, uncredited role in the 1994 movie Camp Nowhere . Frakes was also the voice of Finn the Human's adult version in the episodes "Puhoy" and "Dungeon Train" on Adventure Time .

Frakes was an executive producer for the WB series Roswell , directed several episodes, and guest-starred in three episodes. His relationship with Star Trek is made light of in the season 3 episode "Secrets and Lies", in which the alien character Max auditions for a guest role as an alien for Star Trek: Enterprise.

Frakes appeared on the 1994 Phish album Hoist , playing trombone on the track titled "Riker's Mailbox". Frakes would occasionally perform on the trombone during his tenure as Commander Riker, drawing on his college marching band experience. He was also a member of "The Sunspots", a vocal backup group of Star Trek cast members that appeared on Brent Spiner's 1991 album Ol' Yellow Eyes Is Back .

Frakes hosted The Paranormal Borderline, a television series on UPN, which dealt with the paranormal and mysterious happenings and creatures. [12] In one episode, Frakes presented an interview of reporter Yolanda Gaskins with veteran astronaut Gordon Cooper, where they discussed the possibility of aliens having visited Earth in the past. [13] [14] He hosted Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, which also dealt with the paranormal world.

Frakes and Francis appeared together in Lois & Clark in the episode "Don't Tug on Superman's Cape" as a creepily too-good-to-be-true couple. He narrated the History Channel's That's Impossible.

In addition to Roswell, Frakes has directed episodes of Leverage , [15] Castle , NCIS: Los Angeles , Burn Notice , Falling Skies and most recently Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , Switched at Birth , Hit the Floor , The Librarians , and The Orville .

Frakes works with the Workshops, the Waterfall Arts Center, and the Saltwater Film Society, all located in Maine, where he teaches classes on film direction. He has also previously taught directing and filmmaking courses as Rockport College, now called Maine Media College. [16] [17] [18] [19] He and his wife owned a home furnishings store in Belfast, Maine, called The Cherished Home, which closed in August 2012 due to his wife being too busy with her acting to spend adequate time at the store. [20]

Personal life

Frakes first met actress Genie Francis on the set of the television soap opera Bare Essence , and again while filming the mini-series North and South . They began dating in 1985, became engaged in 1986, and married on May 28, 1988. The couple have two children, Jameson Ivor Frakes, born in 1994, and Elizabeth Frances Frakes, born in 1997. They moved from Belfast, Maine, to Beverly Hills, California, in 2008 and later moved to Calabasas, California. [21]


1979 Beach Patrol Marty GreenMade for TV movie originally aired on ABC
1994 Camp Nowhere Bob Spiegel
Star Trek Generations Commander William T. Riker
1995Time Travel Through the BibleHimself / Host
1996 Star Trek: First Contact Commander William T. RikerNominated–Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated–Saturn Award for Best Director
1998 Star Trek: Insurrection
2002 Star Trek: Nemesis Commander/Captain William T. Riker
Clockstoppers Janitoruncredited
2004 Thunderbirds PolicemanUncredited
2011 The Captains Himself/Captain William T. Riker
2017 Devil's Gate Sheriff Gruenwell
1978 Charlie's Angels BradEpisode: "Angel on My Mind"
Barnaby Jones David DouglasEpisode: "Stages of Fear"
Fantasy Island Kirk WendoverEpisode: "The War Games/Queen of the Boston Bruisers"
1979 The Waltons Ashley Longworth Jr.Episodes: "The Lost Sheep" and "The Legacy"
Eight Is Enough ChapperEpisode: "Separate Ways"
The White Shadow Basketball PlayerEpisode: "One of the Boys" (uncredited)
1980 Beulah Land Adam Davis
The Night the City ScreamedRichard Hawkins
1981 The Dukes of Hazzard Jamie Lee HoggEpisode: "Mrs. Daisy Hogg"
Harper Valley Clutch BreathEpisode: "Low Noon"
1982 Hart to Hart Adam BlakeEpisode: "Harts and Palms"
Hill Street Blues Drug dealerEpisode: "Of Mouse and Man"
Quincy, M.E. Leon Bohannon/SurgeonEpisode: "The Face of Fear" and "Ghost of a Chance"
Voyagers! Charles Lindbergh Episode: "An Arrow Pointing East"
1983 Bare Essence Marcus MarshallSeveral episodes.
1984 Highway to Heaven Arthur Krock, Jr.Episode: "A Devine Madness"
Five Mile Creek Adam ScottEpisode: "Gold Fever"
The Fall Guy ConnorsEpisode: "Always Say Always"
1985 The Twilight Zone Single GuyEpisode: "But Can She Type?"
North and South Stanley Hazard
1986 Dream West Lt. Archibald Gillespie
Matlock D.A. ParkEpisode: "The Angel"
1987–1994 Star Trek: The Next Generation Commander William T. Riker176 episodes - Also portrayed transporter duplicate Lt. Thomas Riker in Second Chances
1988 Reading Rainbow HimselfEpisode: "The Bionic Bunny Show"
1994 Wings Gavin RutledgeEpisode: "All's Fare"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Lt. Thomas RikerEpisode: "Defiant"
Journey's End: The Saga of Star Trek: The Next GenerationHostDocumentary
1994–1996 Gargoyles David Xanatos, CoyoteVoice
1995 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Tim LakeEpisode: "Don't Tug on Superman's Cape"
Cybill HimselfEpisode: "Starting on the Wrong Foot"
Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction?Host/Narrator
1996 Star Trek: Voyager Commander William T. RikerEpisode: "Death Wish"
1998–2002 Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Himself45 episodes
1999 Roswell HimselfEpisode: "The Convention"
2000 3rd Rock from the Sun Larry McMichaelEpisode: "Gwen, Larry, Dick and Mary"
2000Ghosts: Caught on TapeNarrator
2002 Futurama HimselfVoice; Episode: "Where No Fan Has Gone Before"
2005 Star Trek: Enterprise Commander William T. RikerEpisode: "These Are the Voyages..."
2005,2009 Family Guy Commander William T. Riker/HimselfEpisodes: "Peter's Got Woods" & "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven"
2009That's ImpossibleHimself
2009 Leverage Patient in Neck BraceEpisode: "The Snow Job" (uncredited)
2010 Criminal Minds Dr. Arthur MalcolmEpisode: "The Uncanny Valley"
NCIS: Los Angeles Navy Commander Dr. StanfillEpisode: "Disorder"
2011 The Super Hero Squad Show High Evolutionary Voice; Episode: "The Devil Dinosaur You Say!"
2012 Leverage Man at Consumer Products Safety CommissionEpisode: "The Toy Job" (uncredited)
Castle Richard Castle FanEpisode "The Final Frontier" (uncredited)
2013 Adventure Time Adult Finn Voice; Episodes: "Puhoy" and "Dungeon Train"
2014 Hit the Floor HankEpisode: "Blow Out"
2016–2017 Guardians of the Galaxy J'son Voice; 12 episodes
2016 Miles from Tomorrowland Grandpa VincentVoice; Episodes: "Galactech: Still Rocketing/Merc's Night Out" & "The Adventures of Jet Retrograde/The Tiny Aliens"
Future-Worm! Steak StarboltVoice
2018 After Trek HimselfAftershow
Episode 11
2019 How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) HimselfEpisode: "Life's Not Fair, Get Used to It"
2020 Star Trek: Picard Captain William T. RikerEpisodes: "Nepenthe" & "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2"
The Ready Room HimselfAftershow
4 episodes
2020–present Star Trek: Lower Decks Captain William T. Riker3 episodes
2020 The Astronauts Rex DowdEpisodes: "Day 21", "Day 34", "Day 73"
Video games
1995 Multimedia Celebrity Poker Himself [22]
2017 XCOM 2: War of the Chosen Volk [23]

Directing filmography

Feature films


Related Research Articles

<i>Star Trek: First Contact</i> 1996 film directed by Jonathan Frakes

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