James Franciscus
James Franciscus 1977.JPG
Franciscus in 1977
James Grover Franciscus

(1934-01-31)January 31, 1934
DiedJuly 8, 1991(1991-07-08) (aged 57)
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Other namesJames Francicus
Alma materYale University
Years active1957–1985
Kathleen Wellman
(m. 1960; div. 1977)

Carla Ankney
(m. 1980)

James Grover Franciscus (January 31, 1934 – July 8, 1991) was an American actor, known for his roles in feature films and in six television series: Mr. Novak, The Naked City, The Investigators, Longstreet, Doc Elliot, and Hunter.

Life and career

Franciscus was born in Clayton, Missouri, to Lorraine (née Grover) and John Allen Franciscus, who was killed during World War II when James was nine.[1] In 1957, Franciscus received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and theatre arts from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he graduated magna cum laude.[2] He was a classmate of Dick Cavett and Bill Hinnant.

His first major role was as Detective Jim Halloran in the half-hour version of ABC's Naked City. Franciscus guest starred on the CBS military comedy–drama Hennesey, starring Jackie Cooper, and on the NBC drama about family conflicts in the American Civil War entitled The Americans. CBS soon cast him in the lead in the 13-week series The Investigators, which aired from October 5 to December 28, 1961. He played the insurance investigator Russ Andrews, with James Philbrook as a co-star. Franciscus was also cast in the role of Tom Grover in the 1961 episode "The Empty Heart" of the CBS anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson. He performed in many feature films and television programs throughout the 1960s and 1970s, preceded by a minor role in an episode of The Twilight Zone titled "Judgment Night" in 1959, and a major role in episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "Forty Detectives Later" in 1960, and "Summer Shade" in 1961.

Franciscus and Dean Jagger from the television series Mr. Novak
Franciscus and Dean Jagger from the television series Mr. Novak

He starred in I Passed for White (1960), and in 1963 he appeared as Mike Norris in the episode "Hang By One Hand" on the NBC medical drama about psychiatry, The Eleventh Hour. He also guest-starred on Combat!, The F.B.I. and Miracle of the White Stallions. Franciscus may be best remembered for his title roles in NBC's Mr. Novak (1963–65) and ABC's Longstreet (1971–72) which included his blind character taking martial arts lessons in Jeet Kune Do from Bruce Lee as Li Tsung in four episodes,[3] and for his vocal performance in the movie version of Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973). Along with Lloyd Bridges, he served as host of the syndicated real-life adventure series Waterworld, which aired from 1972 to 1975. In 1977, he starred in his fifth television series, the short-lived Hunter, as a secret agent.

He was also frequently seen in feature films of the 1960s and 1970s such as Youngblood Hawke, Snow Treasure, The Amazing Dobermans, Marooned, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, City on Fire, When Time Ran Out, The Valley of Gwangi, and The Greek Tycoon. Over the years, Franciscus found film work with Italian cinema. In 1971, he accepted the lead role in Dario Argento's second film, The Cat o' Nine Tails.[4] In 1979, he appeared in Antonio Margheriti's Killer Fish, and in 1980 he starred in director Enzo G. Castellari's Jaws-inspired Great White (aka The Last Shark). He continued appearing in roles on the screen and television. When less important roles were offered, Franciscus turned to writing screenplays and producing. In 1991, the year of his death, he worked as an associate producer and screenwriter on the film 29th Street starring Anthony LaPaglia and Danny Aiello; it was his final project.[citation needed]

Personal life

On March 28, 1960, Franciscus married Kathleen "Kitty" Wellman, the daughter of film director William A. Wellman. They had four children — Jamie, Kellie, Korie, and Jolie.

After the couple's divorce he married Carla Ankney in 1980.

They were still married at the time of Franciscus's 1991 death from emphysema in North Hollywood, California, at 57.[5]



Year Title Role Notes
1957 Four Boys and a Gun Johnny Doyle
1958 The Mugger Eddie Baxter
1960 I Passed for White Rick Leyton
1961 The Outsider Pvt. James B. Sorenson
1963 Miracle of the White Stallions Maj. Hoffman
1964 Youngblood Hawke Youngblood Hawke
1968 Snow Treasure 2nd Lt. H. Kalasch
1969 The Valley of Gwangi Tuck Kirby
Marooned Clayton Stone
The Great Sex War Un­known
1970 Hell Boats Lt. Cdr. Jeffords, R.N.V.R.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes Brent
1971 The Cat o' Nine Tails Carlo Giordani
Kidnapped Uncredited producer
1973 Jonathan Livingston Seagull Jonathan Livingston Seagull (voice)
1974 Aloha Means Goodbye Dr. Lawrence Maddox
1976 The Amazing Dobermans Lucky
1978 Good Guys Wear Black Conrad Morgan
The Greek Tycoon President James Cassidy
1979 Concorde Affaire '79 Moses Brody
City on Fire Jimbo
Killer Fish Paul Diller
1980 When Time Ran Out... Bob Spangler
Nightkill Steve Fulton
1981 The Last Shark Peter Benton
1982 Butterfly Moke Blue
1983 Great Transport John Mason
1991 29th Street Associate producer and story writer


Year Title Role Notes
1957 Studio One Brass Episode: "A Walk in the Forest"
Norstad Episode: "Kurishiki Incident"
Johnny Episode: "The Strong Man"
Have Gun – Will Travel Tom Nelson Episode: "Deliver the Body"
The Silent Service Lt. John R. Bertrand Episode: "The Bowfin Story"
1958–1959 Naked City Det. Jimmy Halloran Main role; 39 episodes
1959 Tales of Wells Fargo Joe Braddock Episode: "The Stage Line"
Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Clay Darrow Episode: "Six Guns for Donegan"
Whirlybirds Jerry Lambert / Tom Drake Episode: "Dead Wrong"
The Twilight Zone Lt. Mueller Episode: "Judgment Night"
Father Knows Best Bill Shappard Episode: "Bud, the Willing Worker"
The Rifleman Philip Simmons Episode: "The Legacy"
Death Valley Days Mike Ward Episode: "Lady of the Press"
1960 The Millionaire Tom Doane Episode: "The Story of Margaret Stoneham"
Wagon Train John Colter Episode: "The Benjamin Burns Story"
Hennesey Williams Episode: "The Annapolis Man"
Black Saddle Quinn Jackson Episode: "The Penalty"
Alfred Hitchcock Presents William Tyre Episode: "Forty Detectives Later"
Rawhide Andy Nye Episode: "Incident of the Murder Steer"
The Deputy William Emerson Stanhope / Billy Bart Episode: "Mother and Son"
1961 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Ben Kendall Episode: "Summer Shade"
The DuPont Show with June Allyson Tom Grover Episode: "The Guilty Heart"
General Electric Theater Bill Taylor Episode: "Love Is a Lion's Roar"
The Americans Lt. Hannon Episode: "The Invaders"
The Investigators Russ Andrews Main role; 13 episodes
1962 Ben Casey John Wickware Episode: "So Oft It Chances in Particular Men"
1963 Dr. Kildare Stan Fisher Episode: "Jail Ward"
The Eleventh Hour Mike Norris Episode: "Hang by One Hand"
1963–1965 Mr. Novak John Novak Main role; 60 episodes
1965 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Larry Martin Episode: "Escape into Jeopardy"
1966 12 O'Clock High Capt. Tom Carpenter Episode: "Cross-Hairs on Death"
Combat! Pfc. Charles Harris Episode: "Decision"
1967 The F.B.I. Charles Burnett Episode: "Force of Nature"
1968 Judd, for the Defense Father William Chitwood Episode: "The Devil's Surrogate"
Shadow Over Elveron Dr. Matthew Tregaskis Television film
The F.B.I. Mitchell Flynn Episode: "Out of Control"
Heidi Television film; also producer
1969 Trial Run Louis Coleman Television film
1970 Night Slaves Clay Howard Television film
Jane Eyre Television film; also producer
1971–1972 Longstreet Mike Longstreet Main role; 24 episodes
1972 Ghost Story Paul Dover Episode: "At the Cradle Foot"
1973 The 500 Pound Jerk Gil Davenport Television film
The Red Pony Television film; also producer
1973–1974 Doc Elliot Dr. Benjamin Elliot Main role; 15 episodes
1975 The Dream Makers Sammy Stone Television film
The Trial of Chaplain Jensen Chaplain Andrew Jensen Television film
Insight The Psychiatrist Episode: "The Man from Inner Space"
A Girl Named Sooner Television film; also uncredited producer
1976 One of My Wives Is Missing Daniel Corban Television film
1976–1977 Hunter James Hunter Main role; 13 episodes
1977 The Man Inside Rush Television film
1978 Secrets of Three Hungry Wives Mark Powers Television film
The Pirate Dick Carriage Television film
Puzzle Harry Scott Television film
1981 Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy President John F. Kennedy Television film
1985 Secret Weapons Colonel Victor Khudenko Television film


  1. ^ "Clipped from St. Louis Post-Dispatch". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. May 25, 1942. p. 1.
  2. ^ Aaker, Everett (2011). Encyclopedia of Early Television Crime Fighters: All Regular Cast Members in American Crime and Mystery Series, 1948-1959. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. pp. 219–222. ISBN 978-0-7864-6409-8.
  3. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "ALL THE BRUCE LEE SCENES IN LONGSTREET (Li Tsung - Bruce Lee 4 episodes)". YouTube.
  4. ^ "Blue Underground Bringing Argento and Fulci Collections to Blu-ray". dreadcentral.com. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  5. ^ "Profile". hollywood.com