Live Story: Stephen Franken
The Live Story series celebrates living people. We want them to know that they are appreciated.
For more than fifty years, Stephen (Steve, Steven) Franken has been one of those actors who is always interesting on screen. One of the first things I think about for Franken is his appearance in Westworld…even though it is only a few lines.
Whether it’s wearing a dog suit on Bewitched or playing a Cardinal in Angels & Demons, directors know: Franken improves what is on the page.
There is no question that Franken had his biggest pop cultural impact as Chatsworth Osborne, Jr., on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Years before Thurston Howell III, Chatsworth embodied what would later be called the 1%. I mean, being in the “Silver Spoon Club” wasn’t just a metaphor for Chatsworth Osborne…he was the president!
As strongly as Maynard G. Krebs on the same show established the image of the beatnik slacker (and who still has teenagers saying “like”), Stephen Franken’s interpretation became the model for snobby rich guys.
While Franken has commented on the expectations that set with casting directors, the actor has actually had a varied career.
How would you like to have these shows on your resume?
- Dr. Kildare
- Perry Mason
- Petticoat Junction
- McHale’s Navy
- Please Don’t Eat the Daisies
- The Patty Duke Show
- My Three Sons
- Mod Squad
- Mary Tyler Moore
- Barney Miller
- Charlie’s Angels
- Hill Street Blues
- China Beach
- Murphy Brown
- The King of Queens
When we look at geek-friendly work, I would be everyone who reads this blog has seen many of these shows:
- One Step Beyond
- The Time Travelers (Ib Melchior wrote and directed)
- My Favorite Martian
- The Wild Wild West
- Mission: Impossible
- Panic in the City (with Dennis Hopper and John Hoyt)
- Night Gallery
- Bewitched (six different roles!)
- Norman Corwin Presents (My take on Norma Corwin Presents)
- The Stranger (TV movie with a parallel Earth)
- Houston, We’ve Got a Problem (TV movie about Apollo 13)
- Kolchak: The Night Stalker
- The Reincarnation of Peter Proud
- Good Heavens (series with Carl Reiner as an angel)
- Man from Atlantis
- Ants (yes, killer ants…starring Robert Foxworth)
- Terror Out of the Sky (killer bees)
- The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu
- The Ghosts of Buxley Hall (which ran on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color)
- Curse of the Pink Panther
- Fantasy Island
- Small Wonder
- Freddie’s Nightmares
- Transylvania Twist (with Robert Vaughn)
- Harry and the Hendersons
- Human Target (Rick Springfield)
- Batman: The Animated Series
- The Pandora Project
- The Omega Code (Michael York and Michael Ironside)
- Agent Red (Dolph Lundgren)
- Static Shock
- Crash Point Zero (Treat Williams in a plot involving Nikola Tesla)
- Threshold (the Carla Gugino series)
With all of these, you might be surprised not to see Star Trek on the list…J.J. Abrams, you could make this happen. 🙂
As you can see, for decades, our geek pop culture wouldn’t have been the same without the versatility, commitment, and reliability of this actor.
Stephen Franken, thank you for all that you have done.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle