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Coleman Francis in a cameo in his film The Beast of Yucca Flats
Coleman C. Francis|
January 24, 1919
Greer County, Oklahoma, U.S.
January 15, 1973 (aged 53)|
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Arteriosclerosis|
|Resting place||Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Children||Alan and Ronald Francis|
Coleman C. Francis (January 24, 1919 – January 15, 1973) was an American actor, writer, producer, and director. He was best known for his film trilogy consisting of The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961), The Skydivers (1963), Red Zone Cuba (1966), all three of which were filmed in the general Santa Clarita, California area and used preoccupation with light aircraft and parachuting, coffee or cigarettes serving as a prop or a center of conversation, and a vigilante-style gunning down of suspects without a trial to conclude the film as frequent motifs.
Francis and his films have gained a cult status as a result of their appearances on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and have been often criticized for their abysmal production values, repetitive plot devices, murky picture quality, and stilted acting. Some critics have characterized Francis' films among the all-time worst, even suggesting that he may surpass Ed Wood in terms of ineptitude.
In the 1940s, Francis headed for Hollywood to start an acting career. He played minor parts in several films from the late 1940s to early 1970s, oftentimes without credit, including Blondie's Reward, Scarlet Angel, The Girl in White, This Island Earth, She Couldn't Say No, Twilight for the Gods, P. J., and Motorpsycho. 1958 brought his first credited role, Stakeout on Dope Street, where he played a detective. His last work in the film industry was in 1970, when he played a drunk in Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
In 1959, Francis formed a partnership with Anthony "Tony" Cardoza, a welder by trade, and together they spawned three films: The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961), The Skydivers (1963), and Red Zone Cuba (1966). Francis wrote and directed the films, while Cardoza handled production duties.
Francis married Barbara Francis, whom he had divorced by the filming of The Beast of Yucca Flats; she played Lois Radcliffe in Beast and the wife of a spectator (played by Coleman) in The Skydivers. They had two sons, Alan and Ronald, who appeared as Art and Randy Radcliffe in The Beast of Yucca Flats, and the spectator's sons in The Skydivers.
Death and legacy
Coleman Francis uses edits like blunt instruments. He uses blunt instruments like blunt instruments. His major themes are death, hatefulness, death, pain, and death. He looks like Curly Howard possessed by demons from Hell. He tried to pass off Lake Mead as the Caribbean Sea. His films have the moral compass of David Berkowitz.
Francis died in California on January 15, 1973 at the age of 53. Though arteriosclerosis is listed as the official cause of death, Cardoza says Francis' body was found in the back of a station wagon at the Vine Street Ranch Market with "a plastic bag over his head and a tube going into his mouth or around his throat". Francis is interred at the Columbarium of Remembrance in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Instead of fading into the annals of cinema history, in the mid-1990s Francis's three directed films gained cult status after being featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. He is survived by his sons Alan and Ronald who reportedly still live in California, as well as his niece Rebecca Marlow, great-niece Stephanie Francis Lee, and great-nephew Matthew Ryan Lee.
- Blondie's Reward (uncredited, 1948)
- The Girl in White (1952)
- Scarlet Angel (uncredited, 1952)
- Killers from Space (uncredited, 1954)
- She Couldn't Say No (uncredited, 1954)
- This Island Earth (uncredited, 1955)
- The Phantom Stagecoach (uncredited, 1957)
- Stakeout on Dope Street (1958)
- Twilight for the Gods (uncredited, 1958)
- T-Bird Gang (1959)
- The Jailbreakers (1960)
- Spring Affair (1960)
- Cimarron (uncredited, 1960)
- The Beast of Yucca Flats (uncredited, 1961)
- The Skydivers (uncredited, 1963)
- The Thrill Killers (uncredited, 1964)
- Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters (1965)
- Motorpsycho (1965)
- Red Zone Cuba (1966)
- The Last American Hobo (1967)
- P.J. (uncredited, 1968)
- Body Fever (1969)
- The Dirtiest Game (1970)
- Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1971)
- Sergeant Preston of the Yukon (4 episodes, 1955–1957)
- Highway Patrol (1 episode, 1959)
- Dragnet (3 episodes, 1957–1959)
- M Squad (1 episode, 1960)
- Tales of Wells Fargo (1 episode, 1961)
- The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
- The Skydivers (1963)
- Night Train to Mundo Fine (aka Red Zone Cuba) (1966)
- Begg, Ken. "The Beast of Yucca Flats". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18.
- Weaver, Tom. "Anthony Cardoza's Tor of the Desert". bmonster.com.
- The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. Bantam Books. 1996. p. 134. ISBN 978-0553377835.
- Weaver, Tom. "Anthony Cardoza Recalls the Fallout From Yucca Flats". bmonster.com.