Jonathan Scott 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 and as David Xanatos in the animated television series Gargoyles.

Moving on to directing in recent years, Frakes directed and also starred in Star Trek: First Contact as well as Star Trek: Insurrection. He is also the author of a book called The Abductors: Conspiracy.[1]

Personal life

Frakes was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. He 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.[2] Frakes 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 University for two summers and spent several seasons performing at the Loeb Drama Center.

His father, James R. Frakes, Ph.D., 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.[3] His mother, Doris J. (née Yingling), still lives in the Bethlehem area. Frakes had a younger brother, Daniel, who died in 1997 from pancreatic cancer.[4][5] He remains close with his niece and goddaughter Julia Frakes, Daniel's daughter. Julia is a fashion contributor to several magazines including Lula, 25 Magazine and Vogue Girl Korea and is signed with NEXT Model Management.[6]

Frakes married soap opera actress Genie Francis on May 28, 1988. They live in Los Angeles with their son, Jameson (Jamo) Ivor Frakes, born in 1994, and daughter, Elizabeth (Eliza) Francis Frakes, born in 1997.


For a time in the 1970s, Frakes worked for Marvel Comics, appearing at conventions in costume as Captain America.[7]

Frakes moved to New York City and became a member of "The Impossible Ragtime Theater". In that company, Frakes did his first off-Broadway acting in Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape directed by George Ferencz. His first Broadway appearance was in Shenandoah. At the same time, he landed a role in the NBC soap opera The Doctors.[8] When his character was dismissed from the soap, Frakes 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), and a supporting role in the equally short-lived primetime soap Paper Dolls in 1984.[8] He also had recurring roles in Falcon Crest[8] and the miniseries North and South before signing for the role of Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation.[9]

He 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. He is also one of six Star Trek actors (the other actors being Kate Mulgrew, Michael Dorn, George Takei, Avery Brooks and Majel Barrett) to lend their voices to the video game Star Trek: Captain's Chair reprising his role as Commander William T Riker when users visit the Enterprise-D bridge featured in the game.

Frakes 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, Frakes 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, Frakes appeared on the Phish album Hoist, playing trombone on the track titled "Riker's Mailbox". Frakes would occasionally perform on the trombone during his tenure as Commander Riker, drawing on his college marching band experience.

Frakes hosted Paranormal Borderline, a television series at Fox, which dealt with the paranormal and mysterious happenings and creatures. In one episode Frakes 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.[10][11] 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. 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 Frakes 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. Frakes would allude to stories based on true events or fictional stories and only reveal the truth at the ending of each episode.

Frakes 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.

He is also currently narrating the History Channel television show "That's Impossible" which is on Tuesdays at 10–11 eastern time.

Frakes has had a relationship with the production of TNT's Leverage as a guest director. Jonathan Frakes is the primary director of four season 1 and season 2 episodes. During the time of Voyager alumna Jeri Ryan's recurring role on the show, he directed her in episode 211, "The Bottle Job". He has directed at least two episodes of Leverage in season 3.[12]

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. He co-owns a home furnishings store with his wife in Belfast, Maine called The Cherished Home.[13]

Acting filmography

Feature films

Television series

Directing filmography

Feature films



  1. Jonathan Frakes; Dean Wesley Smith (1996). The Abductors: Conspiracy. New York: Tor. ISBN 978-031286208-4.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  2. Sylvia Lawler (September 25, 1988). "Jonathan Frakes' career beams up Bethlehem actor scores as 'Star Trek' commander". Allentown, PA: The Morning Call. pp. T.01. 
  3. "James R. Frakes". Allentown, PA: The Morning Call. March 15, 2002. pp. B.10. 
  4. "Daniel M. Frakes". Allentown, PA: The Morning Call. May 19, 1997. pp. A.09. 
  5. 1
  6. "Pop Couture". New York, NY: The New York Times Magazine. December 21, 2008. pp. MM.22. 
  7. Brian Cronin (2006-07-04). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #58". Comics Should Be Good!. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Nemecek, Larry (1992). "Rebirth". In Stern, Dave. The Star Trek The Next Generation Companion. 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020: Pocket Books. p. 18. ISBN 0671794604. 
  9. Sylvia Lawler (May 5, 1986). "Making history: "North and South's" Jonathan Frakes is crafting his future– History yields a good part for Jonathan Frakes". Allentown, PA: The Morning Call. pp. D.01. 
  10. Youtube video
  11. UFO Folklore Center – Transcript of Interview
  12. Turner Network. "Leverage Season 3 Episode Synopses" (Microsoft Word document). Turner Network. Retrieved May 7, 2010. 

External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:AllRovi person

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