Franklyn Seales
Born(1952-07-15)July 15, 1952[1][2]
DiedMay 14, 1990(1990-05-14) (aged 37)[1][5]
EducationJuilliard School (BFA)
OccupationActor, painter
Years active1974–1988
WebsiteOfficial website

Franklyn Seales (July 15, 1952 – May 14, 1990) was an American film, television and stage actor. He was known for his portrayals of business manager Dexter Stuffins in the 1980s sitcom Silver Spoons, and real-life convicted cop killer Jimmy Lee (Youngblood) Smith in the 1979 film The Onion Field.[1][3][4][6][7][8]

Early life and education

Franklyn Vincent Ellison Seales was born on July 15, 1952, the fifth eldest of eight siblings, in Calliaqua to Francis Seales, a merchant seaman and government employee, and Olive Seales (née Allen), a homemaker. Seales was of English, Scottish, African, Portuguese and Native Caribbean descent. He and his family left the West Indies in 1960 and settled in New York City. He attended Lincoln High School in Brooklyn.[3][4][5]

Seales originally intended to study at the Pratt Institute to pursue a career in art. However, in the early 1970s, Seales agreed to accompany an aspiring-actress friend to an audition at the Juilliard School. As Seales helped his friend run through the famous Romeo and Juliet balcony scene, actor/producer John Houseman (then director and founder of the school's drama division) began to notice him. Houseman offered Seales a four-year Juilliard scholarship.[3][4][5][9] Seales was the first and only known graduate of Juilliard to hail from St. Vincent.[9] He studied at Houseman's Acting Company.[6]


Seales made his breakthrough in 1978 with the PBS drama, Trial of the Moke, portraying Lt. Henry O. Flipper, the first African-American graduate of West Point.[3][4][5][6][9] He went on to appear in The Onion Field (1979), in which he portrayed real-life convicted cop killer Jimmy Lee (Youngblood) Smith.[3][4][5][6] That same year, he also had a minor role in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.[8][9][10] He appeared in the 1981 film, Southern Comfort, in which he portrayed Rifleman Cleotis Simms.[5][6][8][11][12]

He came to do other television and became a regular on Silver Spoons (which also starred Houseman), a situation comedy of the early 1980s in which he portrayed Dexter Stuffins from 1983 to 1987.[3][4][5][6] He appeared on episodes of Hill Street Blues and Amen.[3][4][5][6][13]

In Los Angeles, Seales joined L.A. Theatre Works and was seen in such unconventional productions as Conversation at Night With a Despised Character, in which Los Angeles Times critic Lawrence Christon found him "one of America's most compelling stage actors."[3][4][5]

He was the Last Person on Earth in Sade-Sack, or How to Live After the Asprocalisp, and he starred in Bertolt Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle.[5] Working primarily in the experimental Equity Waiver theaters of L.A.'s Westside, Seales was seen in No Place to Be Somebody, as "Hamlet" in the Charles Marowitz drama, in Babbitt and Oh Dad Poor Dad.[5]

Despite his talent some of the roles he most wanted sometimes eluded him. "Either I'm not black enough or I look too Hispanic or Cuban", he said in one of his last interviews in 1988. "I have to be hired by someone who knows my work." His last major triumph was at the Mark Taper Forum in October 1988, in Nothing Sacred, an adaptation of Ivan Turgenev's novel Fathers and Sons.[5] Along with acting, Seales was a painter.[3][4][9][14]

Personal life and death

According to Walter Hill, the director of Southern Comfort, Seales was openly gay.[15]

Franklyn Seales started noticing symptoms of AIDS related illness (in particular a persistent cough) on the set of Amen and had been unable to work regularly for the last couple years of his life.[5]

On May 14, 1990, Seales died at the age of 37 from complications of AIDS at his family's home in Brooklyn.[1][3][4][5][6][7][10][16] He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Caribbean Sea.


Year Title Role Notes
1974 King Lear Servant to Cornwall Television movie
1978 The Trial of the Moke Lt. Henry O. Flipper Television movie
1979 The Onion Field Jimmy Lee "Youngblood" Smith
1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture Crew member #5
1980 Beulah Land Roman Miniseries
1981 Southern Comfort Pfc. Simms
1981 Macbeth Lennox Direct-to-video release
1982 Hill Street Blues Crawford 3 episodes
1983 The Taming of the Shrew Petruchio Direct-to-video release
1983-1987 Silver Spoons Dexter Stuffins 89 episodes
1986-1987 Amen Lorenzo Hollingsworth 3 episodes
1987 Growing Pains Dr. Jerry Marquez Episode: "This Is Your Life"
1988 Wiseguy Paco Bazos Episode: "Fascination for the Flame"


  1. ^ a b c d Stodghill, Alexis Garrett (December 1, 2011). "Black celebrities who died of AIDS: We remember you". The Grio. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  2. ^ Franklyn Seales biography at The New York Times
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k McCallister, Jared (July 15, 2012). "Biography of Franklyn Seales chronicles late actor's fascinating journey from St. Vincent to stardom". Daily News. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Biography of Franklyn Seales chronicles late actor's fascinating journey from St. Vincent to stardom". Daily News. 15 July 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Folkart, Burt A. (May 15, 1990). "Stage Actor Seales Dies of AIDS at 37". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Franklyn Seales, Co-Star of 'Silver Spoons', Of AIDS". Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. 78 (9): 54. 1990-06-11. ISSN 0021-5996.
  7. ^ a b "Franklyn Seales". Orlando Sentinel. May 16, 1990. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "Remembering The Icons On World AIDS Day: 21 Famous Gay Personalities Who Died Of AIDS". December 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d e samalimusicpublishin (8 August 2011). "'Life of an Artist' Biography of Franklyn Seales (interview with Author)" – via YouTube.
  10. ^ a b Gonzalez, Sujeiry (November 29, 2013). "15 Celebrities Who Passed Away From AIDS". Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  11. ^ "Franklyn Seales Movies". Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  12. ^ "Franklyn Seales". Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  13. ^ Paietta, Ann C. (2005). Saints, Clergy and Other Religious Figures on Film and Television, 1895–2003. McFarland. ISBN 9781476610160.
  14. ^ "Black Celebrities Who Died of AIDS". March 24, 2007. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  15. ^ Rizov, Vadim (January 29, 2013). ""Tough Little Stories": Director Walter Hill at 92Y Tribeca". Filmmaker. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  16. ^ Als, Hilton (June 22, 2009). "World of Whimsy". The New Yorker. Retrieved July 5, 2015.