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Canadian actor and jazz vocalist Don Francks, a veteran of classic American cop and detective TV shows like Mission Impossible, Mannix and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., died Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 84.
His Toronto agent Jennifer Goldhar on Monday confirmed his death. Born in Vancouver on Feb. 28, 1932, Francks, as a young jazz musician and vocalist, drove east to Toronto and starred in a host of 1950s CBC TV specials.
He later moved to New York City, where he performed in the 1960s at the Blue Angel and recorded a live album at the Village Vanguard.
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.
After leaving entertainment to live on the Red Pheasant Reserve in Saskatchewan as Iron Buffalo, Francks returned to Toronto in 1974. His subsequent film and TV credits included Joel Surnow’s La Femme Nikita, in which he played the role of Walter; The Listener; My Bloody Valentine; and more recently a stint on Gangland Undercover.
Director Jon Cassar (24) paid tribute to Francks on his Twitter account over the weekend: “Sad day. Don Francks has left us. He truly was 1 of a kind. Honored to have worked with him those years on Nikita RIP.”
He is survived by his wife, Lili Francks, and four children, actress Cree Summer Francks (A Different World, Inspector Gadget), actor/songwriter Rainbow Francks, Trane Francks and Tyler Francks.
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