James Franciscus. Good Enough?

Fear the man with the beard? The lesser Charlton Heston? He was a convincing prick. Was he much else? Hailing from Clayton Missouri, Franciscus obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theatre Arts from Yale University graduating magna cum laude. Bursting into television on ABC’s Naked City in the early 60s, he guest starred on the comedy Hennesey and the NBC drama The Americans. Soon the lead in The Investigators playing insurance man Russ Andrews. He landed on The Twilight Zone, Father Knows Best, The Rifleman, Death Valley Days, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Rawhide, Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare, The Eleventh Hour. He was next a High School teacher in Mr. Novak and a blind man in Longstreet. More guest bits followed on Combat!, The F.B.I., Judd for the Defense, and another series as an undercover agent in Hunter.

A fixture in films as well. He shot to the top immediately. Four Boys and a Gun (1957), The Mugger (1958), I Passed for White (1960), The Outsider (1961), Miracle of the White Stallions (1963), Youngblood Hawke (1964), Snow Treasure (1968), The Valley of Gwangi (1969), Marooned (1969), Hell Boats (1970), Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), The Cat o’ Nine Tales (1971), Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973), The Amazing Dobermans (1976), Good Guys Wear Black (1978), The Greek Tycoon (1978), Concorde Affaire '79 (1979), City on Fire (1979), Killer Fish (1979), When Time Ran Out (1980), Nightkill (1980), The Last Shark (1981), Butterfly (1982), Great Transport (1983). When his offers decreased in size, James furthered a story idea which became 29th Street (1991) starring Anthony LaPaglia and Danny Aiello.

T.V., Movies, a cult following in Italy, Franciscus lasted longer than most. His rugged good looks and easy smile paved his path to countless projects. Question is could you sum him up or is he a mystery? City on Fire, Marooned, Killer Fish. He acted in three MST3K experiments. His latest is the most memorable. Feigning illness and gambling like a pro, the waters of Brazil won’t ever be the same. Wasn’t his death the most satisfying? A suave Cary Grant for European audiences? A Diet George Taylor? A nicer Richard Chamberlain? Forgettable, nasty, a presence. Charmer or Flash in the Pan?


Wasn’t he the finder of lost loves?


“That’s Anthony Franciosa!”


Note: Three Franciscus features slipped on to Mystery Science Theater. City on Fire (1979), Marooned (1969) a.k.a. Space Travelers, Killer Fish (1979). Talks on each are linked to beneath.


KTMA 16. City on Fire (1979)

401. Space Travelers (1969)

1205. Killer Fish (1979)

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James Franciscus on JFK.

Top 10 Films of James Franciscus.

Trailer of The Valley of Gwangi (1969).

Trailer of Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970).

Opening Titles to Mr. Novak.

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Longstreet. Bruce Lee trains James Franciscus.


Trailer of Marooned (1969).

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Longstreet Series Intro (1971-1972).

Trailer of Youngblood Hawke (1964).


Hunter. Opening and Ending Titles.

Trailer of The Last Shark (1981) a.k.a. Great White.

Trailer of Good Guys Wear Black (1978).

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Trailer of The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971).

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Trailer of The Greek Tycoon (1978).

The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971) TV Spot.

John Landis on Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970).