Jonathan Frakes

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Jonathan Frakes

(American film, stage, television actor
Best known for his Star Trek: The Next Generation sci-fi series)

Jonathan Frakes 2018.jpg

Born August 19, 1952
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Spouse Genie Francis

Jonathan Frakes (born August 19, 1952 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania), is known for being a prominent actor and director in American television and film. He is the son of Doris J. (Yingling) and Dr. James R. Frakes, a college professor. When he was younger, his parents moved with Jonathan and his younger brother Daniel to Bethlehem in eastern Pennsylvania. His father, Dr. James R. Frakes taught English at Lehigh University, where he held the Fairchild chair in American Literature until 2002 when he passed away. Frakes is most known for his role as Commander William Riker throughout seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation and in four Star Trek theatrical films. Frakes also directed eight Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, his first in 1990 titled "The Offspring". Frakes would go on to direct 2 Star Trek feature films and multiple episodes of the subsequent Star Trek Series among 40 other TV series, including NCIS: Los Angeles, Burn Notice, Roswell, and countless others. Frakes is notable for his beard, towering height, and blue eyes. Frakes was an undergraduate at Penn State and continued his education at Harvard, spending several seasons with the Loeb Drama Center. Frakes then moved to New York, spending five years appearing on and off Broadway in several regional theater productions. Frakes is of German, and some English, ancestry.

Film, Television and theater career

After switching his major to theater arts and graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1974 from Penn State, Frakes then moved to Boston to attain his masters degree from Harvard University by 1976.

Frakes made the big move to New York City early on in his acting career where he had a stint as Captain America for Marvel Comics. Frakes also appeared in a role on the Broadway musical "Shenandoah". Frakes joined "The Impossible Ragtime Theatre," and was part of several off-Broadway productions. Frakes moved to Los Angeles in the late 1970s. The move proved very successful for Frakes, as he landed a recurring role as Vietnam veteran Tom Carroll from 1977 to 1978 on the soap opera The Doctors.

During the late 1970's and early 1980s, Frakes guest-starred on several of the big prime-time shows of the time, including Charlie's Angels, Fantasy Island, Quincy M.E., Highway to Heaven, The Dukes of Hazzard and a recurring role the Waltons. Frakes was then landing more recurring roles in such shows as the 1985 prime-time soap opera Falcon Crest where he was cast as Damon Ross. Frakes also landed roles in Paper Dolls and Bare Essence.

In early 1987 when preparing for his audition for the role of Commander William T. Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Frakes had to watch videotapes from the original episodes because he knew nothing about Star Trek: The Original Series. At the urging of his soon-to-be wife Genie and her family, Jonathan went to an audition for a Riker on the new Star Trek television series at Paramount. After six weeks, and seven auditions, Frakes landed the role that would bring him worldwide fame: that of Commander William Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Frakes was interviewed and cast for Commander William T. Riker personally by Gene Roddenberry. Frakes character William T. Riker, first appeared in the first episode "Encounter at Farpoint" for Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987. Early on in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series, Jonathan Frakes had no beard and looked very young as the first officer Riker. Frakes grew the now famous beard during the hiatus before TNG's second season as he dislikes shaving. He returned to rehearsal before shaving it. The producers liked the change and asked him to keep the beard, although a fictional reason was not given until five years later.

In addition to Star Trek: The Next Generation, Frakes has made appearances as Thomas Riker in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and William Riker in Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, and Star Trek: Picard. He is one of only two Star Trek regulars to appear on five different Star Trek series. The only other regular to match that number is Majel Barrett-Roddenberry. Frakes has also directed episodes in five of the series (Star Trek:TNG, Star Trek:DS9, Star Trek:Voyager, Star Trek:Discovery, and Star Trek:Picard).

Frakes voiced the recurring role of David Xanatos in one of Disney's most popular cartoon series Gargoyles. Jonathan Frakes and his Star Trek: The Next Generation co-stars Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, and LeVar Burton all lent their voices in roles for the animated series from 1994-1996. Jonathan Frakes' wife was pregnant with their first child at the same time as his character's wife Fox was in the series. Then voicing their same characters in the sequel series Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles from 1996-1997, however Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton did not do this series.

In 1996 in addition to co-starring, it was announced that Frakes was to be the director of the eighth Star Trek film, Star Trek: First Contact. Frakes received critical praise for his work on the film and it became the highest-grossing entry of the franchise to date. He formed a production company, Goepp Circle Productions, named after the street he lived on in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

After Josh Brolin was host for the first 1997 season on the Fox Network anthology series "Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction", Frakes was host from 1998 to 2002, for 26 episodes.

Frakes himself, lends his voice to shows like Futurama, Family Guy and the cartoon network animated series Adventure Time.

From 2016–2017 Frakes voiced the character J'son in the Guardians of the Galaxy (TV series) for 12 episodes.

In 2020 Frakes appeared in two episodes during the spin-off series first season of Star Trek:Picard as William Riker, who is now married to Deanna Troi with two children, one child passed away.

Family and friendships

Jonathan Frakes and his wife Genie Francis at the Dallas Comic Con.

In 1985 and 1986, on the set of the miniseries North and South and North and South: Book II, Frakes met soap opera star Genie Francis. Frakes reportedly fell in love with Francis on the set, and they were married two years later on May 28, 1988. Jonathan and Genie have two children: Jameson Ivor Frakes (born August 20, 1994) and Elizabeth Francis Frakes (born May 30, 1997). Frakes is the Son-in-law of actor Ivor Francis and Rosemary Daley. Godmother of his son Jameson is Elizabeth Berman, wife of Star Trek producer and writer Rick Berman.

Jonathan and his wife Genie moved from Belfast, Maine, to Beverly Hills, California, in 2008 and later moved to the Calabasas, California area and have a home in Woodland Hills, California in Los Angeles County.

Patrick Stewart held close relationships with Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner and Jonathan Frakes, relationships Stewart admits were fostered mostly due to the large number of "ready room scenes" with Data, Picard, and Riker, all of which were shot late into the night mostly on Fridays after the rest of the Star Trek cast had gone home.

Frakes is also friends with Star Trek (original series) actor William Shatner stating he goes to "Shatner's for his Super Bowl Sunday.

Jonathan Frakes has a long working friendship with Rebecca Romijn having also directed her on set for 10 episodes on the TV series "The Librarians". Frakes looks forward to continuing with what he calls a "fabulous working shorthand" with Rebecca Romijn on the upcoming Star Trek:Strange New Worlds CBS series.


Year Title Role Notes
1994 Camp Nowhere Bob Spiegel
Star Trek Generations Commander William T. Riker
1995 Time Travel Through the Bible Himself / Host
1996 Star Trek: First Contact Commander William T. Riker Nominated–Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated–Saturn Award for Best Director
1998 Star Trek: Insurrection Commander William T. Riker
2002 Star Trek: Nemesis Commander/Captain William T. Riker
Clockstoppers Janitor uncredited
2004 Thunderbirds Policeman uncredited
2011 The Captains (film) Himself/Captain William T. Riker
2017 Devil's Gate Sheriff
Year Title Role Notes
1978 Charlie's Angels Brad Episode: "Angel on My Mind"
Barnaby Jones David Douglas Episode: "Stages of Fear"
Fantasy Island Kirk Wendover Episode: "The War Games/Queen of the Boston Bruisers"
1979 The Waltons Ashley Longworth Jr. Episode: "The Lost Sheep" and "The Legacy"
Eight Is Enough Chapper Episode: "Separate Ways"
The White Shadow (TV series) Basketball Player Episode: "One of the Boys" (uncredited)
1980 Beulah Land Adam Davis
The Night the City Screamed Richard Hawkins
1981 The Dukes of Hazzard Jamie Lee Hogg Episode: "Mrs. Daisy Hogg"
Harper Valley PTA (TV series) Clutch Breath Episode: "Low Noon"
1982 Hart to Hart Adam Blake Episode: "Harts and Palms"
Hill Street Blues Drug dealer Episode: "Of Mouse and Man"
Quincy, M.E. Leon Bohannon Episode: "The Face of Fear"
Quincy, M.E. Surgeon Episode: "Ghost of a Chance"
Voyagers! Charles Lindbergh Episode: "An Arrow Pointing East"
1983 Bare Essence Marcus Marshall Several episodes.
1984 Highway to Heaven Arthur Krock, Jr. Episode: "A Devine Madness"
Five Mile Creek Adam Scott Episode: "Gold Fever"
The Fall Guy Connors Episode: "Always Say Always"
1985 The New Twilight Zone Single Guy Episode: "But Can She Type?"
North and South (TV miniseries) Stanley Hazard
1986 Dream West Lt. Archibald Gillespie
Matlock (TV series) D.A. Park Episode: "The Angel"
1987–1994 Star Trek: The Next Generation Commander William T. Riker 176 episodes - Also portrayed transporter duplicate Lt. Thomas Riker in Second Chances
1988 Reading Rainbow Himself Episode: "The Bionic Bunny Show"
1994 Wings (NBC TV series) Gavin Rutledge Episode: "All's Fare"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Lt. Thomas Riker Episode: "Defiant"
Journey's End: The Saga of Star Trek: The Next Generation Host Documentary
1994–1996 Gargoyles (TV series) David Xanatos, Coyote Voice
1995 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Tim Lake Episode: "Don't Tug on Superman's Cape"
1995 Cybill Himself Episode: "Starting on the Wrong Foot"
1995 Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction? Host/Narrator
1996 Star Trek: Voyager Commander William T. Riker Episode: "Death Wish"
1998–2002 Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction? Himself 45 episodes
1999 Roswell (TV series) Himself Episode: "The Convention"
2000 3rd Rock from the Sun Larry McMichael Episode: "Gwen, Larry, Dick and Mary"
2000 Ghosts: Caught on Tape Narrator
2002 Futurama Himself Voice; Episode: "Where No Fan Has Gone Before"
2005 Star Trek: Enterprise Commander William T. Riker Episode: "These Are the Voyages..."
2005,2009 Family Guy Commander William T. Riker/Himself Episode: "Peter's Got Woods" & "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven"
2009 Leverage (TV series) Patient in Neck Brace Episode: "The Snow Job" (uncredited)
2010 Criminal Minds Dr. Arthur Malcolm Episode: "The Uncanny Valley"
NCIS: Los Angeles Navy Commander Dr. Stanfill Episode: "Disorder"
2011 The Super Hero Squad Show High Evolutionary Voice; Episode: "The Devil Dinosaur You Say!"
2012 Leverage (TV series) Man at Consumer Products Safety Commission Episode: "The Toy Job" (uncredited)
Castle (TV series) Richard Castle Fan Episode "The Final Frontier" (uncredited)
2013 Adventure Time Finn the Human (Adult Finn) Voice; Episodes: "Puhoy" and "Dungeon Train"
2014 Hit the Floor (TV series) Hank Episode: "Blow Out"
2016–2017 Guardians of the Galaxy (TV series) J'son Voice; 12 episodes
2016 Miles from Tomorrowland Grandpa Vincent Voice; Episodes: "Galactech: Still Rocketing/Merc's Night Out" & "The Adventures of Jet Retrograde/The Tiny Aliens"
Future-Worm! Steak Starbolt Voice
2018 After Trek Himself Aftershow
Episode 11
2019 How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) Himself Episode: "Life's Not Fair, Get Used to It"
2020 Star Trek: Picard Captain William T. Riker 2 episodes
The Ready Room Himself Aftershow
Episode: "Episode 20"

External links