Don Francks

Don Francks was one of Canada’s brightest, multi-faceted talents. On Broadway, in television, film and music, he was a constant presence to generations of viewers and listeners.

I will give you some highlights about the achievements of this very talented Canadian artist who recently passed away. Although he may have been known primarily for his acting, Francks was also a vocalist and jazz musician.

And if that were not enough, Don was also a drummer, poet, motorcyclist, a native nations champion, an author and peace activist.

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Don was a modest person. He didn’t flaunt himself, being somewhat shy and retiring.

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Donald Harvey Francks / Iron Buffalo

(February 28, 1932 – April 3, 2016)

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Donald Harvey Francks was born and raised in Burnaby, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver. The early part of his life he was an orphan. At an early age he composed songs, and learned to play the trombone, drums, and flute.

He once attributed his voice talent and career to free elocution lessons by Muriel Davis from age eight. He performed in vaudeville, worked as a foundry man and was involved in summer stock before moving to Toronto. During his time in Hollywood he lived in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles.

Music videoS

In August 1962, the Don Francks Trio with Lenny Breau debuted at Toronto’s Purple Onion.

Don Francks on vocals with his trio, called “Three”: Lenny Breau (guitar), Ian Henstridge (bass), Archie Alleyne (drums). Other musicians appearing in this video – Don “DT” Thompson (sax), Butch Watanabe (trombone)

Full Jazz Video – “Toronto Jazz” – Toronto, Canada 1963 / – Don Francks with Lenny Breau (~60 min.) / This is most likely some of the earliest known footage of jazz guitarist virtuoso Lenny Breau available /
Note: at 16:30 Clem Hambourg introduces the band

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Don Francks with guitarist Lenny Breau and Ian Henstridge (known simply as “Three”) rehearsing a jazz version of a Bach Minuet. Lenny is only 21 years old.

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Lenny Breau with Don FrancksYou’ll Never Know

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Don Francks with Patty Lewis singing How Are You Fixed For Love

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Don Francks arrangement of “Things – Foolish & Favourite” – with Genevieve Marentette

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In 1963 Don performed in many jazz clubs including George’s Spaghetti House in Toronto, and the Village Vanguard in New York City, where he made a tape recording for his (vinyl) LP called “Jackie Gleason Says No One in This World Is Like Don Francks”, (Kapp KRS-4501).

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In New York, he also recorded “Lost… and Alone” (1965, Kapp KS-3417).

In the early 1970s Francks moved to Saskatchewan and became a member of the Red Pheasant First Nation. RedPheasantLogo

Don married and moved there with his second wife, Lili Francks, named there as Red Eagle.

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He was adopted as a Cree, and named “Iron Buffalo “.

Since 1979, Francks lived in Toronto with wife Lili and their son, Rainbow Sun.

In 2004, Art of Life Records released a four decades-old recording as “Live at the Purple Onion”. A National Film Board documentary called “Toronto Jazz” includes rehearsals and performances of two other groups. (See above under Music Videos.)

In 2010, he performed on CJRT-FM and recorded a podcast for the station called Jazz Genesis.

In January 2013 he completed mixing a double live CD to be released in the fall of 2013.

Endorsement for Archie Alleyne Foundation

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MOVIES

His acting career got started with the CBC in 1954 as a regular on Burns Chuckwagon From the Stampede Corral, a Western-themed series with musical artists, and other Canadian shows such as Riding High and The Adventures of Tugboat Annie.

In the 1960s, he also guest starred on classic U.S. TV series including The Wild Wild West, The Virginian and Ben Casey, and played the role of U.S. Army captain Franklin Sheppard on the short-lived 1966 drama Jericho.

On the movie front, Francks co-starred alongside Petula Clark and Fred Astaire in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1968 fantasy musical Finian’s Rainbow.

Don Francks with Petula Clark in Finian’s Rainbow – That Old Devil Moon

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Francks, Clark with Fred Astair in Finian’s Rainbow – How Are Things In Glocca Morra

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Francis Ford Coppola (far left) and cast of Finian’s Rainbow.

Nikita TV Series…

Nikita cast: Matthew Ferguson, Don Francks, Roy Dupuis, Peta Wilson, Eugene Robert Glazer, Alberta Watson
Don Francks with Pita Wilson (Nikita)

June 27, 2012, Don Franks Live at The Dominion on Queen St Toronto


2014 – Rockburn presents Don Francks

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Appearing in Barrie…
http://www.thebarrieexaminer.com/2015/03/12/actor-and-singer-set-to-give-it-his-all-at-barrie-show

Newstalk 2014

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Don Francks and Jaymz Bee singing live from The Long & McQuade studios at JAZZ.FM91 (2014)

About His Passing…
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/donfrancks-dead-actor-jazz-880428

Selected filmography

Thanks to Wikipedia for this AMAZING list of credits to Don Francks.

  • Hemlock Grove (2013) … as Nicolae Rumancek
  • The Listener (2009) … as Wally
  • I’m Not There (2007) … as Gentleman Hobo (Hobo Joe) on the train
  • Sons of Butcher (2006) … as Barney G.
  • The Very Good Adventures of Yam Roll in Happy Kingdom (2006) (voice) … as Futukayoi
  • Lie with Me (2005) … as Joshua
  • Puppets Who Kill (“The Twilight Place”) (2004) … as The Evil Head … (“Bill & the Berkowitz’s”) (2006) … Blind Willy
  • This Is Wonderland (“Episode 1.13”) (2004) … as Stan Puck
  • Atomic Betty (“No-L9”, “Like Father, Like Scum/Planet Stinxx”) (2004) (voice) … as Max Sr.
  • My Dad the Rock Star (2003) (voice) … as Skunk
  • Knights of the Zodiac (2003) … Additional Voices
  • Beyblade (2002) … Additional Voices
  • Cyberchase (2002) … Additional Voices
  • Tracker (“Native Son”) (2002) … as Wahota Keene
  • A Killing Spring (2002) … as Lou Massey
  • My Name Is Tanino (2002) … as Chinawsky [2]
  • X-Men: Mutant Academy 2 (2001) (voice) … as Sabretooth/Victor Creed
  • The Zack Files (“Groovin'”) (2001)
  • Medabots (2001) … Guest Star
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (2000) (voice) … as Sabretooth/Victor Creed
  • X-Men: Mutant Academy (2000) (voice) … as Sabretooth/Victor Creed
  • Earth: Final Conflict (“Trapped by Time”) (2001) … as Kyle Madrid
  • Eckhart (2000) (voice) … as Cat/Boss Mouse
  • The Famous Jett Jackson (“Backstage Pass”) (2000) … as Phil Phelps
  • Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal (“Wendigo”) (2000) … as Samuel Thompson
  • Relic Hunter (“Flag Day”) (1999) … as Jake Whitney
  • Avengers: United They Stand (1999) … Additional Voices
  • Rescue Heroes (1999) … Additional Voices
  • Seasons of Love (1999) … as Reverend Doctor Garshwin
  • Traders (“Little Monsters”) (1998)
  • Summer of the Monkeys (1998) … as Bayliss Hatcher
  • Silver Surfer (1998) (voice) … as Kalok
  • Mythic Warriors: Guardians of the Legend (“Jason and the Argonauts”, “Ulysses and Circe”) (1998) (voice) … as Blue-Eyed Wolf/2nd Sailor
  • Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension (“Nightmare on Eerie Street”) (1998) … Sandman
  • Birdz (1998) … Additional Voices
  • Bad Dog (1998) … Additional Voices
  • Donkey Kong Country (1998) … Additional Voices
  • Mr. Music (1998) … as Zal Adamchyk
  • Little Men (“Thanksgiving”) (1998) … as Levi Cole
  • The Minion (1998) … as Michael Baer
  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police (“Christmas Bloody Christmas”) (1998) (voice) … Santa Claus
  • Ned’s Newt (1997) … Additional Voices
  • Pippi Longstocking (1997) … Additional Voices
  • Freaky Stories (1997) … Additional Voices
  • Mr. Men and Little Miss (1997) (voice) … as Mr. Grumpy and Mr. Clumsy
  • La Femme Nikita (1997–2001) … as Walter
  • Chester Cheetah (1997) … Voice
  • X-Men vs. Street Fighter (1996) (voice) … as Sabretooth/Victor Creed
  • First Degree (1996) … as Lou Matlin
  • Bogus (1996) … as Dr. Surprise
  • Harriet the Spy (1996) … as Harrison Withers
  • Hostile Advances: The Kerry Ellison Story (1996) … as Marty
  • Flash Gordon (1996) … Additional Voices
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth (1996) … Voice
  • Stickin’ Around (1996) … Guest Star
  • Blazing Dragons (1996) … Guest Star
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1996) … Additional Voices
  • Goosebumps (“The Werewolf of Fever Swamp” Parts 1 and 2) (1996) … as Swamp Hermit
  • First Degree (1996) … as Lou Matlin
  • The Neverending Story (1995) (voice) … as Gmork
  • Johnny Mnemonic (1995) … as Hooky
  • Road to Avonlea (“The Return of Gus Pike”) (1995) … as Abe Pike
  • A Vow to Kill (1995) … as Smithford
  • Little Bear (1995) … as Additional Voices
  • Ultraforce (1995) … Additional Voices
  • Highlander: The Animated Series (1994) … Guest Star
  • Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (“Enter the Tiger”) (1994) … as Stranger
  • WildC.A.T.S. (1994) … Guest Star
  • Free Willy (1994) … Guest Star
  • Side Effects (“The Great Chendini”) (1994) … as Mr. Harrison
  • Hello Kitty and Friends (1994) … Additional Voices
  • Tales from the Cryptkeeper (1993) (“Ghost Ship”) (voice) … as Red Beard
  • Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (1993) (voice) … as Girth/Hobbs
  • The Busy World of Richard Scarry (1993) … Additional Voices
  • The Diviners (1993) … as Royland
  • E.N.G. (“The Sleep of Reason”) (1992) … as Pointer
  • Quiet Killer (1992) … as Dr. Martin
  • The Adventures of Tintin (1992) (voice) … as Captain Francis Haddock
  • Dog City (1992) (voice) … as the Dog City Residents
  • X-Men (1992) (voice) (“Cold Vengeance”, “Deadly Reunions”, “Enter Magneto” … as Sabretooth/Victor Creed), (“Repo Man” … as Puck/Eugene Milton Judd/Shaman/Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen), (“The Phalanx Covenant: Part 1” … as Sabretooth/Victor Creed Phalanx)
  • Married to It (1991) … as Sol Chamberlain
  • Rupert (1991) … Additional Voices
  • Swamp Thing (1991) (voice) … as Anton Arcane
  • Top Cops (1990) … Announcer
  • Piggsburg Pigs (1990) … Additional Voices
  • Beetlejuice (1989) (voice) … as Count Mein/Mr. Big
  • Babar (1989) … Additional Voices
  • The Legend of Zelda (1989) … Additional Voices
  • Police Academy (1988) (voice) … as Proctor/Thomas “House” Conklin
  • The Christmas Wife (1988) … as Social Arranger
  • Care Bears Nutcracker Suite (1988) (voice) … as Vizier
  • AlfTales (1988) … Additional Voices
  • ALF: The Animated Series (1987) … Additional Voices
  • My Pet Monster (1987) … Additional Voices
  • Madballs (1987) (voice) … as Commander Wolf Breath
  • Garbage Pail Kids (1987) … Additional Voices
  • Starcom: The U.S. Space Force (1987) (voice) … Adm. Franklin Brinkley (Starcom Commander)
  • Street Legal (“I’ll Be Home for Christmas”) (1987) … as Mel
  • Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future (1987) (voice) … as Lacchi
  • The Big Town (1987) … as Carl Hooker
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“The Mole”) (1987) … as Sgt. Jim Willis
  • Danger Bay (1986) … as Commentator
  • The Care Bears (1986) … Additional Voices
  • Seeing Things (“I’m Looking Through You”) (1984) … as Sunshine, (“Blind Alley”) (1985) … as Gary
  • Star Wars: Ewoks (1985–86) (voice) … as Umwak/Dulok Shaman
  • Star Wars: Droids (1985) (voice) … as Jann Tosh
  • Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors (1985) (voice) … as Noak
  • The Littlest Hobo (“The Good Shepherd”) (1984) … as Reverend Dobson
  • Countdown to Looking Glass (1984) … as Don Geller
  • Inspector Gadget (1983) …. Additional Voices
  • Rock & Rule (1983) (voice) … as Mok
  • Heavy Metal (1981) (voice) … as Grimaldi/Co-Pilot/Barbarian
  • My Bloody Valentine (1981) … as Chief Jake Newby
  • The Phoenix Team (1980) … as David Brook
  • Riel (1979) … as Ouilette
  • The Great Detective (“The Black Curse”) (1979) … Guest Star
  • Fast Company (1979) … as Elder
  • Fish Hawk (1979) … as Deut Boggs
  • Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) (voice) … as Boba Fett
  • McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) … as Buffalo
  • Mannix (“Memory: Zero”) (1969)
  • Lancer (“Little Darling of the Sierras”) (1969) … as Noah Fletcher
  • Mission: Impossible (“A Game of Chess”) (1968) … as Nicholas Groat, (“The Numbers Game”) (1969) … as Major Alex Denesch
  • The Virginian (“The Land Dreamer”) (1969) … as Caleb and Jack Welles
  • Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–70) … as Mr. Anybody
  • Finian’s Rainbow (1968) … as Woody Mahoney
  • Jericho (1966 TV series) … as Captain Franklin Shepphard (16 episodes)
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (“The Round Table Affair”) (1966)… as Artie King
  • The Wild Wild West (“The Night of the Grand Emir”) (1966) … as T. Wigget Jones
  • Ben Casey (“You Wanna Know What Really Goes on in a Hospital?”), (“Why Did the Day Go Backwards?”) (1965)
  • The Forest Rangers (“The Game Reserve”) (1963) … as Sanders, Jack Brass’ Friend
  • This Land (1978–1982) … as Host
  • The Merv Griffin Show (February 15, 1968)
  • R.C.M.P. (1959–60) … as Constable Bill Mitchell

 

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3 thoughts on “Don Francks”

      1. Yes I have , My old chum Steve and I used to frequent many of the ofter hours clubs and various Jazz joints where we would see Don perform. In my mind he was an icon.

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