May. 27th, 1932
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Steve Franken's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Franken was born in Brooklyn, New York. His first role was at the age of twenty-six in 1958 as "Willie" in CBS's Playhouse 90 dramatic series.
He is best remembered for his role of the playboy dilettante Chatsworth Osborne, Jr., on the CBS series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Franken starred in thirty-five Dobie Gillis episodes beginning midway through the first season and continuing throughout the second, third, and fourth seasons, 1960-1963. Doris Packer, a talented character actress, played his mother, a wealthy matron who disgustedly referred to Chatsworth as "you nasty, nasty boy", as he called her affectionately "Mumsey" in the English tradition.
Franken was already twenty-eight when he began the role of Chatsworth, a 17-year-old at the time. The Osbornes lived in a mansion surrounded by a wall embedded with broken glass to keep out the undesirables. Chatsworth supposedly spoke eighteen languages, including the then little-mentioned Mandarin Chinese found only on certain vases. He was president of the Silver Spoon Club. Despite the Osbornes' wealth, Chatsworth attended a public high school to round out his personality. He formed uneasy relationships with plebeians Dobie (played by Dwayne Hickman) and Maynard G. Krebs (played by the late Bob Denver).
In 1962, Franken told TV Guide magazine that being typecast as Chatsworth had ruined his career: "I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but there are times when I hate Chatsworth as violently as Dobie or Maynard do. He may foul them up on the show with his money and his superiority, but I can't help feeling he fouls me up worse with casting directors and producers." That same year, Franken appeared as Ensign Bender, a by-the-book sailor, in the episode "Operation Gaslight" on NBC's Ensign O'Toole series with Dean Jones.
Dobie Gillis producers used Chatsworth in one in four episodes because they thought that such a unique, strong character would dominate the series if he were featured in most segments. Franken said that he spent more time in the Hollywood unemployment office than he did on the set.
Immediately after the cancellation of Dobie Gillis, Franken was cast as Lieutenant Samwell 'Sanpan' Panosian in the NBC series The Lieutenant starring Gary Lockwood. This was the first television series created by Gene Roddenberry. In time, Franken played scores of other roles, including an appearance as a professor in the 2007 film The Metrosexual. In earlier years, Franken starred from 1966-1971 as George Barkley, Juke the Carlotta-domineered son, Orvis the poodle-like alien, Cousin Henry (Uncle Arther's son Henry), and other characters in seven episodes of ABC's Bewitched. In one of his most hilarious roles, Franken appeared as the drunken waiter "Levinson" in the 1968 Blake Edwards film, The Party alongside Peter Sellers. He appeared five times on ABC's 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 Voohries" alongside of Michael Constantine 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.
More recently in 2002 and 2003, he provided voices for Law & Order computer games.
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