Jonathan Frakes (born August 19, 1952) is an American actor, author
and director, best known for his portrayal of Commander William T. Riker in the
television series Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Moving on to directing in recent years, Jonathan directed and also starred in Star Trek: First Contact as well as Star Trek: Insurrection, which earned him the nickname Two-Takes Jonathan for his speed.
Jonathan Frakes is also the author of a book called The Abductors: Conspiracy.
Jonathan was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania to Doris J. Yingling and James R. Frakes, Ph.D. Jonathan Frakes grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in the Lehigh Valley region of the state. He is a 1970 graduate of Bethlehem's Liberty High School, where he ran track and played with the famous Liberty High School Grenadier Band. Jonathan received a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theater Arts at Penn State University in the early 1970s, where he was a member of the Thespians. He continued his studies at Harvard and spent several seasons performing at the Loeb Drama Center.
For a time in the 1970s, Jonathan worked for Marvel Comics, appearing at conventions in costume as Captain America.
His father, James R. Frakes, was a well-respected book critic for the New York Times Book Review, a book editor, and professor of English literature at Lehigh University from 1958–2001, where he was the Edmund W. Fairchild Professor in American Studies. He died in early 2002. Jonathan Frakes' mother, Doris, still lives in the Bethlehem area. Jonathan had a younger brother, Daniel, who died in 1997 from pancreatic cancer. Jonathan Frakes remains close with his niece and goddaughter Julia Frakes, Daniel's daughter. Julia is a fashion contributor to PAPER Magazine.
Jonathan married soap opera actress Genie Francis on May 28, 1988. They live in Maine with their son, Jameson (Jamo) Ivor Frakes, born in 1994, and daughter, Elizabeth (Eliza) Francis-Frakes, born in 1997.
Jonathan works with The Workshops, The Waterfall Arts Center and The Saltwater Film Society, all located in Maine, where he teaches classes on film direction. Jonathan Frakes co-owns a home furnishings store with his wife in Belfast, Maine called The Cherished Home. Jonathan is one of the best known tall actors at 6 ft 4 in (193 cm).
Jonathan moved to New York City and became a member of "The Impossible Ragtime Theater." In that company, Jonathan did his first off-Broadway acting in Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape. His first Broadway appearance was in Shenandoah. At the same time, he landed a role in the NBC soap opera The Doctors. When his character was dismissed from the soap, Jonathan moved to Los Angeles, California and played guest spots in many of the top television shows of the 1970s and 1980s, including The Waltons, The Dukes of Hazzard, Matlock, and Steven Bochco's Hill Street Blues. He played the part of Charles Lindbergh in a 1983 episode of Voyagers! titled "An Arrow Pointing East". In 1983, he had a role in the short-lived NBC prime time soap opera Bare Essence (which also starred his future wife Genie Francis). He also had recurring roles in Falcon Crest and North & South before signing for the role of Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Jonathan Frakes has done animation voice acting, most notably voicing the recurring role of David Xanatos in the animated series Gargoyles, and he provided the voice of his own head in a jar in the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before." He had a small, uncredited role in the 1994 movie Camp Nowhere. He also reprised his role of Riker for a Next Generation cutaway on an episode of Family Guy that also featured his co-stars Patrick Stewart and Michael Dorn as their respective roles of Picard and Worf.
Jonathan is one of only two Star Trek regulars to appear on four different Star Trek series (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise). (The only other regular to match or exceed that number is Majel Barrett-Roddenberry who appeared in all six television series.) He has also directed episodes in three of them (TNG, DS9 and VOY) and was a popular and innovative director on the Star Trek set, often finding completely new ways to shoot the show's familiar sets. His directing career has included the films Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection. Additionally, Jonathan was an executive producer for the WB show Roswell, directed several episodes and guest-starred in three episodes. His relationship with Star Trek is made light of in the episode "Secrets and Lies", in which the alien character Max ironically auditions for a guest role as an alien for Star Trek: Enterprise.
Outside of acting, Jonathan appeared on the Phish album Hoist, playing trombone on the track titled "Riker's Mailbox." Jonathan would occasionally perform on the trombone during his tenure as Commander Riker, drawing on his college marching band experience.
Jonathan hosted the television series Paranormal Borderline, which dealt with the paranormal and mysterious happenings and creatures. In one episode Jonathan presented an interview of reporter Yolanda Gaskins with veteran astronaut Gordon Cooper, where they discussed the possibility of aliens having visited the Earth in the past. Overall, the show was criticized and pulled off the air after it was found out that footage showing a yeti from the Himalayas was purposely faked by the show and its producers-Fox television. The "Snowwalker" footage, as it is known, purportedly shows a yeti as it is crossing through a valley in the Himalayas, walking in front of a Belgian couple who are traversing the area on skis. The network finally admitted the hoax, and Jonathan distanced himself from the show. Similarly, he is also popular in hosting the hit TV series Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction which also dealt in the paranormal world. Jonathan would allude to stories based on true events or fictional stories and only reveal the truth at the ending of each episode.
Jonathan also appeared in Lois & Clark in the episode "Don't Tug on Superman's Cape" as Tim Lake, a rich collector who tries to add Superman to his and his wife Amber's collection.
This Jonathan Frakes Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub