Franklin Edward Cover (November 20, 1928 – February 5, 2006) was an American actor best known for starring in the sitcom The Jeffersons. His character, Tom Willis, was half of one of the first interracial marriages to be seen on prime-time television.
Life and career
Cover was born on November 20, 1928 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Britta (Schreck) and Franklin Held Cover. He graduated from John Marshall High School in 1947. Cover graduated from Denison University in 1951, and he received his MA in Theater in 1954 and MFA in Theater in 1955 both from Case Western Reserve University.
His career started on the stage acting in Henry IV, Part 1 and Hamlet. He also appeared in Forty Carats with Julie Harris. He made his television debut on Naked City and later appeared on The Jackie Gleason Show.
In 1965, he married Mary Bradford Stone.
His first starring role was on The Jeffersons as Tom Willis who was married to a black woman, Helen, played by Roxie Roker. The couple lived in the same high-rise apartment building as the sitcom's title characters. Cover would often be the foil to Sherman Hemsley's black businessman, George Jefferson. The sitcom ran from 1975 to 1985. He also appeared in The Stepford Wives in 1975, and played Hubert Humphrey in the 1982 TV movie A Woman Called Golda.
Following the end of The Jeffersons, Cover continued to make guest appearances on television shows as well as appearing in a supporting role in Wall Street (1987). In 1994, he appeared in the second episode of ER. His final television appearance was in an episode of Will & Grace (entitled "Object Of My Rejection") that aired on May 13, 1999.
Cover died at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey, on February 5, 2006. He had been living at the home since December 2005 while recovering from a heart condition, and died of pneumonia.
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He was survived by his wife; the former Mary Bradford Stone, two adult children; Susan and Bradford, and a grandson, Maxwell. His son, Bradford Cover, an actor who lives in New York City, has appeared on Law and Order, Broadway, and Off Broadway, and is a company member at The Pearl Theatre Company. His daughter Susan is the founder of Susie's Supper Club, a home delivery food service that caters to parents and children in New York.
- Mirage (1965) - Group Leader
- What's So Bad About Feeling Good? (1968) - Medical Expert (uncredited)
- The Great Gatsby (1974) - Senator Evans (uncredited)
- The Stepford Wives (1975) - Ed Wimpiris
- Wall Street (1987) - Dan
- Zits (1988) - FBI Chief
- Brain Donors (1992) - Doctor
- Almost Heroes (1998) - Nicholas Burr
- "Franklin Cover, 77, Actor on 'Jeffersons'". New York Times. February 11, 2006. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
Franklin Cover, who became a familiar face as George and Louise Jefferson's neighbor in the long-running sitcom The Jeffersons, died on Sunday in Englewood, N.J. He was 77. The cause was pneumonia, said his publicist, Dale Olson. He had been living at the Lillian Booth Actors' Fund of America home since December 2005 while recuperating from a heart condition.
- "Final Roll Call" (PDF). John Marshall High School Alumni News. 33 (1). Spring 2006. p. 21.
- "Franklin Cover, White Neighbor on 'Jeffersons', Dies at 77". Associated Press. February 10, 2006. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
In his nearly six decades in show business, Cover made numerous appearances on television shows, including "The Jackie Gleason Show," "All in the Family," "Who's the Boss?" "Will & Grace," "Living Single," "Mad About You" and "ER."
- "Franklin Cover to Wed Mary Bradford, Stone". New York Times. January 7, 1965. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
Miss Mary Bradford Stone and Franklin Edward Cover, will be married on Jan. 30. Their engagement was made known by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bradford ...