Feb. 28th, 1932
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Don Francks' Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
A man who has many irons in the entertainment fire, hirsutely handsome Canadian actor, vocalist and jazz musician Don Francks (also known as "Iron Buffalo") was born Donald Harvey Francks on February 28, 1932, in Vancouver, British Columbia. One can with confidence add drummer, poet, motorcyclist, author and peace activist to his many lists of accomplishments. He grew up quite adept at athletics (soccer, lacrosse and rugby) and performed in vaudeville and in summer stock shows before relocating to Toronto. On stage from age 11, he landed an early job singing on the radio, then moved into television in 1954. While acting in both variety shows and dramas, he was also a writer and penned several documentaries and public affairs specials in both Toronto and Montreal. On the nightclub scene, Don was featured as a jazz vocalist, a DJ, a trombonist in a country western band and a member of a barbershop quartet called Model-T Four.
In the mid-1960s he focused on small screen acting and racked up a number of rugged, adventurous guest-star turns on TV episodes of "Wild, Wild West," "Mannix," "Man from U.N.C.L.E." and "Mission: Impossible". A promising lead that could have led to stardom in the NBC series "Jericho" (1966) was cut short when the show was bowled over by its ABC competition -- "Batman" -- and quickly canceled. He also appeared on and off Broadway, which included a stint with the musical "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever."
Don contributed one strapping co-starring turn in a big budgeted musical film during his less-than-a-decade stay in Hollywood. As the robust Woody, he dallied with the likes of beguiling Petula Clark, who played his lady love in Finian's Rainbow (1968). Their enchanting and sensuous duet on "That Old Devil Moon" is only one of the film's highlights. The film was not successful, however, in launching Don's movie career.
Afterwards he moved his family to the Red Pheasant Indian Reserve, near North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and is an honorary Cree and named "Iron Buffalo". Since 1974, he has been living in Toronto with his wife Lili Francks (Red Eagle), a member of the Plains Cree First Nation and also a dancer. Their children are voice artist and actress Cree Summer, best known for her regular role on the TV sitcom "A Different World," and actor/songwriter Rainbow Francks.
In later years Don gained some attention after being cast as Walter, an arms expert, on the hit TV series "La Femme Nikita" (1997). More recently he traveled to Montreal for a part in the film I'm Not There. (2007), filmmaker Todd Haynes' meditative take on the famous singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.
- Takes part in charity work for "The Canada Tibet Committee" and is just as involved in Native American people's rights and activism, and actively supports environmental groups such as Greenpeace.
- Father of actress 'Cree Summer' (qv) and actor 'Rainbow Francks' (qv).
- Met his wife Lili while she was dancing on "The Dean Martin Show".
- At 10, he had a show, Saturday afternoons on CKMO in Vancouver, and scored well imitating singers. His stage name was Don Francksinatra. He soon was doing five shows daily.
- On a trip to New York, he was discovered by 'Jackie Gleason (I)' (qv), who produced Don's LP "Jackie Gleason Says No One in the World Is Like Don Francks.".
- Toured Canadian native reservations with a rock band called the Broken Treaties.
- An avid motorcycle rider for the past 47 years, he has a collection of 12 antique automobiles, mostly Model-T Ford racing cars, from 1912-27.
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