Jonathan Scott Frakes was born on August 19, 1952 in Bellefonte, in central Pennsylvania. His father, James, and his mother, Doris, soon moved with Jonathan and his younger brother Daniel to Bethlehem, in eastern Pennsylvania. There, Dr. James Frakes taught English at Lehigh University, where he held the Fairchild chair in American Literature until his passing in 2002.
While growing up, Jonathan was introduced to jazz by his father, and started playing the trombone when he was in fourth grade. As a child, Jonathan was always friendly, funny and somewhat of an actor, according to a childhood friend. In high school, he played in the band and ran track. He graduated from Liberty High in Bethlehem in 1970. The day after he graduated, he started classes at Pennsylvania State University, enrolling as a psychology major. The next summer, he worked as an usher for the local theater and observed his peers thoroughly enjoying acting. He was motivated to switch his major to theater arts and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1974. He then moved to Boston to attain his masters degree from Harvard University by 1976.
At this point, he decided to move to New York City and try to make it as an actor. The roles did not come easily, so he had to take side jobs, such as a waiter, a furniture mover (where he injured up his back), and a stint as Captain America for Marvel Comics. Meanwhile, he won roles in the Broadway musical "Shenandoah" and on the soap opera "The Doctors" (1969) as Vietnam veteran Tom Carroll from 1977 to 1978. At his agent's urging, Jonathan moved to Los Angeles in late 1978 to try his hand at television guest appearances. He guest-starred on several of the big prime-time shows of the time, including "Charlie's Angels" (1976), "Fantasy Island" (1977), "Barnaby Jones" (1973), "Quincy M.E." (1976), "Highway to Heaven" (1984), "The Waltons" (1971), and "The Dukes of Hazzard" (1979).
During the 1980s, Jonathan landed a starring role in a prime-time soap opera, "Bare Essence" (1983), which had spun off a successful miniseries of the same name. However, the show did not take off with the viewers and was soon canceled. He went back to guest appearances for two more years, until he got the part of Stanley Hazard in the Civil War epic "North and South" (1985). After spending more than six months filming all over the southern United States, he and his co-star, Genie Francis, fell in love (he had met her three years before when they co-starred in "Bare Essence" (1983)). During that time, he and Genie didn't have much to do with each other, other than his making fun of her hair, according to her. However, three years later, they were an item.
In early 1987, Jonathan went to an audition for a new television series at the urging of his soon-to-be wife and her family. After six weeks, and seven auditions, he won the role that would bring him worldwide fame: that of Commander William Riker on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987). It was at this time, he and Genie announced their engagement. They would have to postpone their wedding twice because of his job but were finally married in the first-season hiatus on May 28, 1988. All of his new co-stars attended the wedding, along with "Star Trek" (1966) creator Gene Roddenberry. During the seven years, Frakes starred on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987), he not only acted but discovered that he had a talent for directing. He helmed eight episodes in all and was invited to direct on the Next Generation spin-offs, "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (1993) and "Star Trek: Voyager" (1995).
The day after his 42nd birthday, on August 20, his son, Jameson Ivor Frakes was born. Jameson is named after both his grandfathers, the late James Frakes, and the late actor Ivor Francis, Genie's father. During this time, Jonathan actually turned down work, preferring to stay at home and raise his son with his wife. For the next two years, he did a few guest appearances on television.
In 1996, it was announced that he was to be the director of the next Star Trek film, Star Trek: First Contact (1996). He received critical praise for his work on the film, and it became the highest-grossing entry of the franchise to date. He formed a production company, Goepp Circle Productions, named after the street he lived on in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Just two days after his ninth wedding anniversary in 1997, Elizabeth Francis Frakes was born. Sadly, just two weeks prior, Jonathan's brother, Daniel, passed away from pancreatic cancer. In 1998, he was asked to direct the ninth Star Trek film, Star Trek: Insurrection (1998). Following mixed reviews for this film, he continued to direct in movies and television, act in a few non-Star Trek roles, and starred in the tenth Star Trek film, Star Trek: Nemesis (2002).
|Genie Francis||(28 May 1988 - present) 2 children|
More often than not sports a beard
Towering height and slender frame
Deep resonant voice
Deep authorative voice
The role of Commander William Riker on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987)
The voice of David Xanatos in "Gargoyles" (1994)
Daughter, Elizabeth Francis, born. [30 May 1997]
Marched trombone in Blue Band at Penn State University.
Son, Jameson Ivor, born 20 August 1994.
Educated at Penn State University and Harvard University.
Nickname: "Two-Takes Frakes", for his efficient filming style on the set of Star Trek: First Contact (1996).
Has a cow-shaped mailbox, and retrieving the mail involves inserting one's hand into the cow's hindquarters. Frakes recorded trombone tracks for Phish's "Hoist" album. Unforunately, his horn parts didn't come out all that well - certainly not as well as the horn parts recorded by the Tower of Power horn section. As sort of a consolation prize, a brief interlude on the album is called Riker's Mailbox.
Is a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.
Ellen J. Hornstein is his personal assistant/story editor for his production company, Goepp Circle Productions.
He and Leonard Nimoy have both directed two Star Trek movies. In both cases, one of the films was a time travel story. In addition, both he and Nimoy were best known as the first officer of the USS Enterprise from their respective Star Trek series/movies.
In some of the first season episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987), his character, Commander William Riker, was called "Bill". In the seasons that followed, he was generally referred to as either Will or "Number One".
His trademark beard was acquired during the filming of "North and South, Book II" (1986). It was patterned after a style popular during the American Civil War. He liked it so much, he continued to wear it after he returned to "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987) for its second season.
Has appeared in episodes of four different series with Marina Sirtis: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987), "Gargoyles" (1994), "Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles" (1996) and "Star Trek: Enterprise" (2001).
Is the only 'Star Trek' regular to appear in four different 'Star Trek' series: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987), "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (1993), "Star Trek: Voyager" (1995) and "Star Trek: Enterprise" (2001). As well as narrate the 1996 "Star Trek: TNG" audio-book "Crossover", featuring Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Captain Scott (James Doohan), and Admiral McCoy (DeForest Kelley).
Along with Marina Sirtis, Armin Shimerman, John de Lancie, Michael Ansara and Richard Poe, he is one of six actors to play the same character on three different 'Star Trek' series. He played Commander William T. Riker in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987), "Star Trek: Voyager" (1995) and "Star Trek: Enterprise" (2001). He also played the transporter double of this character, Lieutenant W. Thomas Riker, in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987) and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (1993).
Along with Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Colm Meaney and Jeffrey Combs, he is one of only six actors to appear in the finales of two different "Star Trek" series ("Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987) and "Star Trek: Enterprise" (2001)).
Is the only actor who has appeared on "Star Trek" to share scenes with regulars from all five series ("Star Trek" (1966), "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987), "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (1993), "Star Trek: Voyager" (1995) and "Star Trek: Enterprise" (2001)): James Doohan in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987) episode "Relics", the entire cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987) in every episode of the series, Avery Brooks, Nana Visitor, Terry Farrell and Colm Meaney in the "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (1993) episode "Defiant", Armin Shimerman in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987) episodes "Haven", "The Last Outpost" and "Firstborn", Kate Mulgrew and Tim Russ in the "Star Trek: Voyager" (1995) episode "Death Wish" and the entire cast of "Star Trek: Enterprise" (2001) in the series finale "These Are the Voyages...".
Along with Tim Russ, he is one of only two actors who have appeared in "Star Trek" to share scenes with four of the five captains: Patrick Stewart in every episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987), Star Trek: Generations (1994), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), Avery Brooks in the "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (1993) episode "Defiant", Kate Mulgrew in the "Star Trek: Voyager" (1995) episode "Death Wish" and Scott Bakula in the "Star Trek: Enterprise" (2001) finale "These Are the Voyages...".
He has played the same character, Commander William T. Riker, in four different series: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987), "Star Trek: Voyager" (1995), "Star Trek: Enterprise" (2001) and "Family Guy" (1999).
When preparing for his audition for the role of Commander William T. Riker in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987), he had to watch videotapes from the original episodes because he knew nothing about the original "Star Trek" (1966) series.
Was interviewed and cast for Commander Riker personally by Gene Roddenberry. He told Frakes that he saw a certain, authoritative "glint" in his eye for that part which reminded him of his self, years ago, while in the LAPD and Air Force.
Shares first and last name with mid-20th Century aviator and stuntman Jonathan Frakes.
Along with Marc Alaimo, Rosalind Chao, Jeffrey Combs, John de Lancie, Michael Dorn and Tim Russ, he is one of only seven actors to appear in ten different seasons of "Star Trek": "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987) Seasons One through Seven, "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (1993) Season Three, "Star Trek: Voyager" (1995) Season Two and "Star Trek: Enterprise" (2001) Season Four.
Has written the sci-fi-book "The Abductors: Conspiracy" along with Dean Wesley Smith.
Calls Alfre Woodard his "godmother". The two became friends as young actors in the 1970s.
At a Star Trek convention, Frakes said he was once in the play "The Lost Colony" on Roanoke Island.
Very good friends with Star Trek co-star Marina Sirtis.
He and his wife Genie Francis have played a married couple in three different productions: Camp Nowhere (1994), "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (1993) and "3rd Rock from the Sun" (1996). In "North and South" (1985), "North and South, Book II" (1986), "Heaven & Hell: North & South, Book III" (1994), his character played brother-in-law to his wife, Genie's character, Brett, who was married to his character's brother, Billy Hazard.
"My favorite actor of all time is Genie Francis".
|"Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987)||$100,000 per episode|
|Star Trek: Generations (1994)||$400,000|
|Star Trek: First Contact (1996)||$5,000,000|
(December 2005) Joined the faculty of Rockport College in Maine, where he and his family now live, teaching classes in directing film and television.
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