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Jonathan Frakes
Jonathan Frakes Photo Op Louisville Supercon 2018.jpg
Frakes in 2018
Jonathan Scott Frakes

(1952-08-19) August 19, 1952 (age 71)
Education Pennsylvania State University (BFA)
Harvard University (MA)
Occupation Actor, director
Years active 1978–present
Genie Francis
(m. 1988)
Children 2

Jonathan Scott Frakes (born August 19, 1952) is an American actor and director. He is best known for his portrayal of Commander William Riker in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and subsequent films and series. Frakes also hosted the anthology series Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, and was the voice for David Xanatos in the Disney television series Gargoyles. In June 2011, he narrated the History Channel documentary, Lee and Grant.

Frakes directed while starring in Star Trek: First Contact as well as Star Trek: Insurrection. He has directed more than 70 television episodes, including episodes of several Star Trek television series and The Orville. He is the author of the novel The Abductors: Conspiracy.

Early life

Frakes was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, the son of Doris J. (née Yingling; 1926–2020) and Dr. James R. Frakes (1924–2002). His father was a professor of English literature at Lehigh University from 1958 to 2001, where he was the Edmund W. Fairchild Professor in American Studies and was a critic for New York Times Book Review and a book editor until his death in 2002. Frakes had a younger brother, Daniel, who died in 1997 from pancreatic cancer.

Frakes was raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in the Lehigh Valley region of eastern Pennsylvania. He attended Liberty High School in Bethlehem, where he ran track and played with the Liberty High School Grenadier Band. He graduated from Liberty High School in 1970.

Frakes attended Pennsylvania State University, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Arts in 1974. He was a member of the Thespians. In 1976, he received his Master of Arts from Harvard University and was active in Harvard's acting company, the Loeb Drama Center.


Early work

For a time in the 1970s, Frakes worked for Marvel Comics, appearing at conventions in costume as Captain America. 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. When his character was dismissed from the show, Frakes moved to Los Angeles and had guest spots in many of the top television series of the 1970s and 1980s, including The Waltons in the episodes "The Legacy" and "The Lost Sheep"; Eight Is Enough; Hart to Hart; The Dukes of Hazzard; Matlock; Quincy, M.E. in "The Face of Fear"; and 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. He also had recurring roles in Falcon Crest and the miniseries North and South. Frakes appeared in the 1986 miniseries Dream West.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

In 1987, Frakes was cast in the role of Commander William T. Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was one of only two actors to appear in every episode (the other being Patrick Stewart). While appearing on the show, Frakes was allowed to sit in on casting sessions, concept meetings, production design, editing, and post-production, which gave him the preparation he needed to become a director. He directed eight episodes of the show and a total of 21 episodes across the Star Trek franchise. After the TV series ended in 1994, Frakes reprised his role in the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies, two of which (Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection) he also directed.

As well as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Frakes has made appearances in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: Picard, and Star Trek: Lower Decks, making him the only Star Trek regular to appear on six different Star Trek series. He has also directed episodes in five of the series (TNG, DS9, VOY, DIS, and PIC).

Frakes 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 Riker when users visit the Enterprise-E bridge featured in the game.

After Star Trek

Jonathan Frakes cropped1
Frakes in 2005

Wanting to branch out from the Star Trek franchise, Frakes turned down the opportunity to direct Star Trek: Nemesis to direct the family film Clockstoppers. However, his next film, Thunderbirds, was a box office bomb which he has said single-handedly almost destroyed what had been a successful directing career: "[My] name was taken off the lists ... I went from 60 to zero. It was a wake-up for me. I had been so positive, and so blessed, and so fortunate." It was several years before Frakes was given another opportunity to direct for television, and Thunderbirds remains his last theatrical directorial credit.

Much of Frakes' acting work after Star Trek has been 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. Frakes also voiced Finn the Human's adult version in the episodes "Puhoy" and "Dungeon Train" on Adventure Time.

Frakes was an executive producer for the WB series Roswell, directed several episodes, and guest-starred in three episodes. His relationship with Star Trek is downplayed in the season 3 episode "Secrets and Lies", in which the alien character Max auditions for a guest role as an alien for Star Trek: Enterprise.

Frakes appeared on the 1994 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. He was also a member of "The Sunspots", a vocal backup group of Star Trek cast members that appeared on Brent Spiner's 1991 album Ol' Yellow Eyes Is Back.

Frakes hosted The Paranormal Borderline, a short-lived television series on UPN, 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 Earth in the past. He hosted seasons 2 through 4 of Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, which also dealt with the paranormal world.

Frakes and Francis appeared together in Lois & Clark in the episode "Don't Tug on Superman's Cape" as a creepily too-good-to-be-true couple. He narrated the History Channel's That's Impossible.

In addition to Roswell, Frakes has directed episodes of Leverage, Castle, NCIS: Los Angeles, Burn Notice, Falling Skies and most recently Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Switched at Birth, Hit the Floor, The Librarians, and The Orville.

Frakes 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 has also previously taught directing and filmmaking courses at Rockport College, now called Maine Media College. He and Francis owned a home furnishings store in Belfast, Maine, called The Cherished Home, which closed in August 2012 due to her being too busy with her acting to spend adequate time at the store.

Personal life

Frakes first met actress Genie Francis on the set of the television soap opera Bare Essence, and again while filming the mini-series North and South. They began dating in 1985, became engaged in 1986, and married on May 28, 1988. The couple have two children, Jameson Ivor Frakes, born in 1994, and Elizabeth Frances Frakes, born in 1997. They moved from Belfast, Maine, to Beverly Hills, California, in 2008 and later moved to Calabasas, California.


Acting credits

Year Title Role Notes
1979 Beach Patrol Marty Green Made for TV movie originally aired on ABC
1994 Camp Nowhere Bob Spiegel
Star Trek Generations Commander William T. Riker
1995 Time Travel Through the Bible Himself / Host
1996 Star Trek: First Contact Commander William T. Riker Nominated–Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated–Saturn Award for Best Director
1998 Star Trek: Insurrection
1999 Dying to Live Will TV movie
2002 Star Trek: Nemesis Commander/Captain William T. Riker
Clockstoppers Janitor uncredited
2004 Thunderbirds Policeman Uncredited
2011 The Captains Himself/Captain William T. Riker
2017 Devil's Gate Sheriff Gruenwell
2022 Catwoman: Hunted King Faraday, Boss Moxie (voice) Direct-to-DVD film
Year Title Role Notes
1977–78 The Doctors Tom Carroll
1978 Charlie's Angels Brad Episode: "Angel on My Mind"
Barnaby Jones David Douglas Episode: "Stages of Fear"
Fantasy Island Kirk Wendover Episode: "The War Games/Queen of the Boston Bruisers"
1979 The Waltons Ashley Longworth Jr. Episodes: "The Lost Sheep" and "The Legacy"
Eight Is Enough Chapper Episode: "Separate Ways"
The White Shadow Basketball Player Episode: "One of the Boys" (uncredited)
1980 Beulah Land Adam Davis
The Night the City Screamed Richard Hawkins
1981 The Dukes of Hazzard Jamie Lee Hogg Episode: "Mrs. Daisy Hogg"
Harper Valley Clutch Breath Episode: "Low Noon"
1982 Hart to Hart Adam Blake Episode: "Harts and Palms"
Hill Street Blues ... Episode: "Of Mouse and Man"
Quincy, M.E. Leon Bohannon/Surgeon Episode: "The Face of Fear" and "Ghost of a Chance"
Voyagers! Charles Lindbergh Episode: "An Arrow Pointing East"
1983 Bare Essence Marcus Marshall Several episodes.
1984 Highway to Heaven Arthur Krock, Jr. Episode: "A Devine Madness"
Five Mile Creek Adam Scott Episode: "Gold Fever"
The Fall Guy Connors Episode: "Always Say Always"
1985 The Twilight Zone Single Guy Episode: "But Can She Type?"
North and South Stanley Hazard
1986 Dream West Lt. Archibald Gillespie
Matlock D.A. Park Episode: "The Angel"
1987–1994 Star Trek: The Next Generation Commander William T. Riker 176 episodes – Also portrayed transporter duplicate Lt. Thomas Riker in Second Chances
1988 Reading Rainbow Himself Episode: "The Bionic Bunny Show"
1994 Wings Gavin Rutledge Episode: "All's Fare"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Lt. Thomas Riker Episode: "Defiant"
Journey's End: The Saga of Star Trek: The Next Generation Host Documentary
1994–1996 Gargoyles David Xanatos, Coyote Voice
1995 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Tim Lake Episode: "Don't Tug on Superman's Cape"
Cybill Himself Episode: "Starting on the Wrong Foot"
Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction? Host/Narrator
1996 Star Trek: Voyager Commander William T. Riker Episode: "Death Wish"
1998–2002, 2021-present Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Himself 45 episodes
1999 Roswell Himself Episode: "The Convention"
2000 3rd Rock from the Sun Larry McMichael Episode: "Gwen, Larry, Dick and Mary"
2000 Ghosts: Caught on Tape Narrator
2002 Futurama Himself Voice; Episode: "Where No Fan Has Gone Before"
2005 Star Trek: Enterprise Commander William T. Riker Episode: "These Are the Voyages..."
2005, 2009 Family Guy Commander William T. Riker
Episodes: "Peter's Got Woods"
Episode: "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven"
2009 That's Impossible Himself
2009 Leverage Patient in Neck Brace Episode: "The Snow Job" (uncredited)
2010 Criminal Minds Dr. Arthur Malcolm Episode: "The Uncanny Valley"
NCIS: Los Angeles Navy Commander Dr. Stanfill Episode: "Disorder"
2011 The Super Hero Squad Show High Evolutionary Voice; Episode: "The Devil Dinosaur You Say!"
2012 Leverage Man at Consumer Products Safety Commission Episode: "The Toy Job" (uncredited)
Castle Richard Castle Fan Episode "The Final Frontier" (uncredited)
2013 Adventure Time Adult Finn Voice; Episodes: "Puhoy" and "Dungeon Train"
2014 Hit the Floor Hank Episode: "Blow Out"
2016–2019 Guardians of the Galaxy J'son Voice; 14 episodes
2016 Miles from Tomorrowland Grandpa Vincent Voice; Episodes: "Galactech: Still Rocketing/Merc's Night Out" & "The Adventures of Jet Retrograde/The Tiny Aliens"
Future-Worm! Steak Starbolt Voice
Angie Tribeca USCG Commandant Admiral Donald "Don" Van Zandt Episode: "The Coast Is Fear"
2018 After Trek Himself Aftershow
Episode 11
2019 How to ... Online (Fast) Himself Episode: "Life's Not Fair, Get Used to It"
2020, 2023 Star Trek: Picard Captain William T. Riker Episodes: "Nepenthe" & "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2", season 3 TBA
2020–2022 The Ready Room Himself Aftershow
6 episodes
2020–present Star Trek: Lower Decks Captain William T. Riker Voice; 3 episodes
2020 The Astronauts Rex Dowd Episodes: "Day 21", "Day 34", "Day 73"
2022 Allegedly Roger Episode: "Money Supply"
Video games
Year Title Role Notes
1995 Multimedia Celebrity Poker Himself
2017 XCOM 2: War of the Chosen Volk

Directing credits

Year Title Notes
1996 Star Trek: First Contact
1998 Star Trek: Insurrection
2002 Clockstoppers
2004 Thunderbirds
Year Title Notes
1990–1994 Star Trek: The Next Generation 3.16 – "The Offspring" (1990)
4.07 – "Reunion" (1990)
4.21 – "The Drumhead" (1991)
5.18 – "Cause and Effect" (1992)
6.09 – "The Quality of Life" (1992)
6.20 – "The Chase" (1993)
7.08 – "Attached" (1993)
7.14 – "Sub Rosa" (1994)
1994–1995 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 3.02 – "The Search, Part II" (1994)
3.08 – "Meridian" (1994)
3.13 – "Past Tense, Part II" (1995)
1995–1996 Star Trek: Voyager 2.03 – "Projections" (1995)
2.07 – "Parturition" (1995)
2.13 – "Prototype" (1996)
1996 Diagnosis Murder 3.18 – "Left-Handed Murder" (1996)
1999–2001 Roswell 1.07 – "River Dog" (1999)
1.19 – "Four Square" (2000)
1.21 – "The White Room" (2000)
3.04 – "Secrets and Lies" (2001)
3.08 – "Behind the Music" (2001)
2002 The Twilight Zone "The Lineman" (2002)
2006 The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines Television film
2007 Masters of Science Fiction "The Discarded" (2007)
2008 The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice Television film
2009–2012 Leverage 1.07 – "The Wedding Job" (2009)
1.11 – "The Juror #6 Job" (2009)
2.04 – "The Fairy Godparents Job" (2009)
2.11 – "The Bottle Job" (2010)
3.02 – "The Reunion Job" (2010)
3.06 – "The Studio Job" (2010)
3.13 – "The Morning After Job" (2010)
4.09 – "The Queen's Gambit Job" (2011)
4.12 – "The Office Job" (2011)
4.15 – "The Lonely Hearts Job" (2011)
5.03 – "The First Contact Job" (2012)
5.05 – "The Gimme a K Street Job" (2012)
5.14 – "The Toy Job" (2012)
2009 Dollhouse 2.04 – "Belonging" (2009)
2009–2013 Castle 2.08 – "Kill the Messenger" (2009)
5.06 – "The Final Frontier" (2012)
5.20 – "The Fast and the Furriest" (2013)
2010–2016 NCIS: Los Angeles 1.14 – "LD50" (2010)
2.11 – "Disorder" (2010)
3.16 – "Blye, K." (2012)
4.10 – "Free Ride" (2012)
5.02 – "Impact" (2013)
8.10 – "Sirens" (2016)
2010 V 1.07 – "John May" (2010)
Persons Unknown 1.05 – "Incoming" (2010)
1.10 – "Seven Sacrifices" (2010)
1.11 – "And Then There Was One" (2010)
The Good Guys 1.09 – "Don't Taze Me, Bro" (2010)
1.16 – "Silence of the Dan" (2010)
2010–2013 The Glades 1.08 – "Marriage Is Murder" (2010)
2.04 – "Moonlighting" (2011)
4.02 – "4.02 – Shot Girls" (2013)
Burn Notice 4.14 – "Hot Property" (2010)
5.06 – "Enemy Of My Enemy" (2011)
5.17 – "Acceptable Loss" (2011)
6.09 – "Official Business" (2012)
7.06 – "All or Nothing" (2013)
2011 Bar Karma 1.09 – "Three Times a Lady" (2011)
2013–2015 Falling Skies 3.09 – "Journey to Xilbalba" (2013)
4.06 – "Door Number Three" (2014)
5.06 – "Respite" (2015)
2013 King & Maxwell 1.08 – "Job Security" (2013)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.08 – "The Well" (2013)
2014–2015 Switched at Birth 3.06 – "The Scream" (2014)
4.08 – "Art Like Love is Dedication" (2015)
2014 Hit the Floor 2.03 – "Behind the Back" (2014)
2.04 – "Full-Court Press" (2014)
2014–2017 The Librarians 1.04 – "And Santa's Midnight Run" (2014)
1.06 – "And the Fables of Doom" (2015)
1.10 – "And the Loom of Fate" (2015)
2.06 – "And the Infernal Contract" (2015)
2.08 – "And the Point of Salvation" (2015)
3.05 – "And the Tears of a Clown" (2016)
3.06 – "And the Trial of the Triangle" (2016)
3.09 – "And the Fatal Separation" (2017)
4.04 – "And the Silver Screen" (2017)
4.06 – "And the Graves of Time" (2017)
2017–2019 The Orville 1.05 – "Pria" (2017)
2.12 – "Sanctuary" (2019)
2017–present Star Trek: Discovery 1.10 – "Despite Yourself" (2018)
2.02 – "New Eden" (2019)
2.09 – "Project Daedalus" (2019)
3.03 – "People of Earth" (2020)
3.08 – "The Sanctuary" (2020)
3.12 – "There Is a Tide..." (2020)
4.06 – "Stormy Weather" (2021)
2018 The Arrangement 2.9 – "Truth" (2018)
2019 The Gifted 2.13 – "teMpted" (2019)
2020–present Star Trek: Picard 1.04 – "Absolute Candor" (2020)
1.05 – "Stardust City Rag" (2020)
2.05 – "Fly Me to the Moon" (2022)
2.06 – "Two of One" (2022)
2020 The Astronauts 1.03 – "Day 3" (2020)
1.04 – "Day 21" (2020)
2021 Leverage: Redemption 1.07 – "The Double-Edged Sword Job" (2021)
2023 Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Video games
Year Title Notes
1996 Star Trek: Klingon Interactive film

See also

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