Born in to a Jewish family in New York City, he was the son of Abraham Philip and Estelle Edith (Cohen) Frankel. He married Helen Beatrice Lehman on August 17, 1941. Together they had two children, Susan and Carl.
Frankel was educated at Columbia, (A.B. with honors, 1937, Ph.D., 1946) and Cornell Universities (graduate study, 1937–38). He served in the U.S. Navy from 1942–46, becoming a lieutenant. He was a member of the American Philosophical Association, the American Association of University Professors (chair of committee on professional ethics), the Institut International de Philosophie Politique, the Authors Guild, the Century Association, and the Phi Beta Kappa society.
Frankel wrote on value theory, social philosophy, and philosophy of history. During the Johnson Administration he served as an Assistant Secretary of State in charge of education and culture (1965-1967). He resigned the post in protest of the Vietnam War.
In 1978 Frankel became the first president and founding director of the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. He held this role through his untimely passing on May 10, 1979, when both he and his wife were fatally shot during a robbery of their home in Bedford Hills, New York.
In recognition of his efforts the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded the Charles Frankel Prize from 1989 to 1996 to individuals making "outstanding contributions to the public's understanding of the humanities." A list of honorees may be found at the NEH website. In 1997 the prize was renamed The National Humanities Medal.
- The Faith of Reason
- The Case for Modern Man
- Religion—Within Reason
- The Democratic Prospect
- TIME Magazine profile
- Biography Resource Center
- Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2007. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC
|Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs
September 15, 1965 – December 31, 1967
Edward D. Re