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|Born||Frankie Russel Faison
June 10, 1949
Newport News, Virginia, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Jane Mandel (1988-present)|
Faison was born in Newport News, Virginia, the son of Carmena (née Gantt) and Edgar Faison. He studied drama at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois, where he joined Theta Chi Fraternity. He also attended NYU's Graduate Acting Program, graduating in 1974. He married Jane Mandel on December 26, 1988, and together, they have three children: Blake, Amanda,and Rachel.
Faison received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Illinois Wesleyan University, in 2002 and was the keynote speaker at the commencement ceremony.
Faison started his acting career in 1974 in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear, with James Earl Jones in the title role. Faison's next role came in TV, in the short-lived series Hot Hero Sandwich in 1979. Faison did make it to the big screen in 1980, when he appeared in Permanent Vacation as "Man in Lobby". A string of small roles followed until 1986 when he played the part of Lt. Fisk in Manhunter. He also appeared in the 1986 comedy The Money Pit as an unruly construction worker. Also that year, he appeared in the Stephen King film Maximum Overdrive. In 1988, he starred alongside Eddie Murphy and James Earl Jones in Coming to America in the role of a landlord and won a minor role in the 1989 Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing. A major recurring role for Faison was as the character Barney in the Hannibal Lecter series, The Silence of the Lambs, the sequel (Hannibal) and the prequel (Red Dragon). Not only did this afford him the distinction of being the only actor apart from star Anthony Hopkins to appear in all three films in the trilogy, but of being the lone actor to have appeared in all four filmed versions of the Hannibal Lecter novels, until Hannibal Rising came out.
During the 1990-1991 season, he starred in the Fox situation comedy, True Colors, with Stephanie Faracy and Nancy Walker, about an interracial couple. He was replaced by Cleavon Little for the second season of the program. In 1991, Faison again appeared alongside Hopkins in the film Freejack, which also starred Mick Jagger and Maximum Overdrive co-star Emilio Estevez. In 1998, he was a regular on the science-fiction TV show Prey. In 2004, he starred as JoJo Anderson in The Cookout. Faison had a starring role as the Baltimore City Police Commissioner Ervin Burrell on the HBO drama The Wire. Faison's role in The Wire was very well received and showed the depth of his acting talents.
Faison appeared in Tyler Perry's Meet The Browns, a movie about a single mom who takes her family to Georgia for the funeral of her father—a man she never met. There, her clan is introduced to the crass, fun-loving Brown family. Faison played the role of Brown and Vera's brother, L.B. Brown. In 2009, he was also among the ensemble cast of John Krasinski's adaptation of Brief Interviews With Hideous Men playing the son of a toilet attendant who caustically recounts his father's experiences in one of the titular monologues.
He has recently appeared in episodes of Blue Bloods, which also stars Tom Selleck, as an assistant police commissioner. His main film role in this period was as Harlan in the film Adam. He also appeared in the November 29, 2010 episode of Lie to Me. He has also appeared in White Chicks.
Faison currently plays the role of Sugar Bates, a prizefighter turned tavernkeeper, on the Cinemax program Banshee.