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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 15 July 1952Kingstown, St. Vincent, British West Indies [now Saint Vincent and the Grenadines]
Date of Death 14 May 1990Brooklyn, New York, USA  (AIDS)
Birth NameFranklyn Vincent Ellison Seales

Mini Bio (1)

Franklyn Seales was a stage and television actor best remembered for playing the finicky business manager Dexter Stuffins on the NBC sit-com "Silver Spoons." He also appeared in films, most notably as the real-life cop killer in "The Onion Field."

One of eight children, Seales was born in 1952 on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. In 1960, Seales' family emigrated to the United States, where they settled in New York City.

A painter since age six, Seales planned to study art at Pratt Institute. But then John Houseman noticed Seales when he was helping a friend to audition by performing the balcony scene from "Romeo and Juliet." Signed on the spot to a full scholarship at Julliard, Seales studied acting as a member of Houseman's Acting Company, during the early 1970s.

Seales' first big break was the PBS broadcast of the television drama The Trial of the Moke (1978). He portrayed Lt. Henry O. Flipper, the first black graduate of West Point.

Seales' film debut was in the true-crime drama The Onion Field (1979). He portrayed a weak, gullible ex-con who's just out of jail when a fast-talking killer, played by James Woods, talks him into a senseless crime that results in the murder of a police officer.

From 1983 to 1987, Seales played the character for which he was best remembered, the finicky business manager Dexter Stuffins on the NBC situation-comedy Silver Spoons (1982), which also starred John Houseman as stoic Grandpa Stratton.

Toward the end of his life, Seales worked mainly in the non-profit Equity-waver theatre on the Westside of Los Angeles. He appeared in plays ranging from the theater of the absurd to Shakespeare. Los Angeles Times critic Lawrence Christon called Seales "one of America's most compelling stage actors."

As a member of the all-star L.A. Theatre Works, Seales was one of a company of 36 actors who contributed $6,000 each for the pleasure of performing classic plays together on the radio. Some of the Theater Works other members were James Earl Jones, Ted Danson, Richard Dreyfuss, Bonnie Bedelia, Stacy Keach, Michael York, and Ed Asner.

Seales last appeared in "Nothing Sacred," at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in the fall of 1988. A comedic adaptation of Turgenev's "Fathers and Sons," it was directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Seales appeared as Uncle Havel, an aristocratic fop and former military man. For his characterization, Seales relied on his recollections of the English colonels and majors of his native St. Vincent, when it was still a British colony, "with their little sticks and stiff mustaches."

Although he was acclaimed for his versatility, Seales admitted that being a light-skinned black man had limited the roles that were available to him.

Franklyn Seales died on Monday, May 14, 1990 from complications from AIDS at his family's home in Brooklyn, New York. He had been too ill to work for several months. In its obituary, the Los Angeles Times said that "Seales as an actor came to be seen as a link between the tradition of black Africa and the sophistication of classical Anglo drama."

He was survived by his mother, three brothers and three sisters. A memorial service was planned at Julliard.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Thomas O'Connor

Trivia (7)

Listed as one of twelve "Promising New Actors of 1979" in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 31.
Best known on film as James Woods' cop-killing partner in "The Onion Field", in 1979. Best known on TV as the fussy, meticulous business manager Dexter Stuffins on "Silver Spoons," in the 1980s.
Born on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and had three brothers and three sisters.
Trained under John Houseman at Juilliard, later working in regional theater and the New York Shakespeare Festival. He played Hamlet at the L.A. Theatre Center.
He also did some artwork as a painter.
He studied with colorist and landscape artist Ian Robertson and West Indies artist O. D. Brisbane. Later, after he moved from St. Vincent to New York City, he studied with Ron Mellman of the Brooklyn Museum.
His screaming during the murder in "The Onion Field" was unscripted and improvised.

Personal Quotes (4)

The Caribs had immense influence in my life, even before I saw Picasso's work, I was influenced by their art.
I will like you to perceive my art as something of nature that can heal with its color, its movement and its simplicity.
I love color. I also love the radiograph. I found that pen and really fell in love with it. It creates those lines that I want that segments the body... to treat the body not as an inhuman thing, but see if I could make something human out of something that was sort of angular. But mostly, I'm interested in a lot of color, a lot of vibrancy: nature! And, I'm not very interested in painting reality, per se. I'm representing reality, in color, in form, in line: in black and white and in color...
This is my dream. To get better, buy an old cottage or something... somewhere, have some dogs, paint and live out the rest of my days happy...

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