Franklyn Seales

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Franklyn Seales
Born (1952-07-15)July 15, 1952[1][2]
Calliaqua,[3][4] St. Vincent, West Indies
Died May 14, 1990(1990-05-14) (aged 37)[1][5]
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Complications from AIDS
Other names Frank Seales
Occupation Actor, painter
Years active 1974–1988
Website www.franklynsealesartwork.com

Franklyn Seales (July 15, 1952 – May 14, 1990) was an American film, television and stage actor. He was best known for his portrayals of business manager Dexter Stuffins in the 1980s sitcom, Silver Spoons, and real-life convicted cop killer Jimmy Lee (Youngblood) Smith in the 1979 film The Onion Field.[1][3][4][6][7][8]

Early life and education[edit]

Franklyn Vincent Ellison Seales[9][10][11] was born on July 15, 1952 in Calliaqua to Francis Seales, a merchant seaman and government employee, and Olive Seales (née Allen), a homemaker. He was the fifth eldest of eight siblings and second eldest son. Seales was of English, Scottish, African, Portuguese and Native Caribbean descent. He grew up among a colonial gathering of British officers—men "with their little sticks and stiff mustaches," Seales would say.[3][4][5][9][10][11] He and his family left the West Indies in 1960 and settled in New York City, where he met his eventual brother-in-law, Jean Dorsinville. Seales attended Lincoln High School in Brooklyn.[3][4][5]

Seales originally intended to study at the Pratt Institute to pursue a career in art. However, in the early 1970s, Seales agreed to accompany an aspiring-actress friend to an audition at the Juilliard School. As Seales helped his friend run through the famous Romeo and Juliet balcony scene, actor/producer John Houseman (then director and founder of the school’s drama division) began to notice him. Houseman offered Seales a four-year Juilliard scholarship.[3][4][5][12] According to Dorsinville, Seales's roommate at Juilliard was Robin Williams.[12] Dorsinville also claims Seales was the first and so far the only student and graduate of Juilliard from St. Vincent.[12] Seales also studied at Houseman's Acting Company.[6]

Career[edit]

Seales made his breakthrough in 1978 with the PBS drama, Trial of the Moke, portraying Lt. Henry O. Flipper, the first African-American graduate of West Point.[3][4][5][6][12] He then went on to appear in The Onion Field (1979), in which he portrayed real-life convicted cop killer Jimmy Lee (Youngblood) Smith.[3][4][5][6] That same year, he had a minor role in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.[8][12][13] He also appeared in the 1981 film, Southern Comfort, in which he portrayed Rifleman Cleotis Simms.[5][6][8][14][15][16]

He came to do other television and became a regular on Silver Spoons (which also starred Houseman), a situation comedy of the early 1980s in which he portrayed Dexter Stuffins from 1982 to 1986.[3][4][5][6] He also performed roles in Hill Street Blues and Amen.[3][4][5][6][17]

In Los Angeles, Seales joined L.A. Theatre Works and was seen in such unconventional productions as Conversation at Night With a Despised Character, in which Los Angeles Times critic Lawrence Christon found him "one of America's most compelling stage actors."[3][4][5] He was the Last Person on Earth in Sade-Sack, or How to Live After the Asprocalisp, and he starred in Bertolt Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle.[5] Working primarily in the experimental Equity Waiver theaters of L.A.'s Westside, Seales was seen in No Place to Be Somebody, as "Hamlet" in the Charles Marowitz drama, in Babbitt and Oh Dad Poor Dad.[5]

Despite his talent some of the roles he most wanted sometimes eluded him. "Either I'm not black enough or I look too Hispanic or Cuban," he said in one of his last interviews in 1988. "I have to be hired by someone who knows my work." His last major triumph was at the Mark Taper Forum in October 1988, in Nothing Sacred, an adaptation of Ivan Turgenev's novel Fathers and Sons.[5]

Along with acting, Seales was also a painter, according to Dorsinville.[3][4][12][18]

Personal life and death[edit]

According to Walter Hill, the director of Southern Comfort, Seales was openly gay.[19]

According to his sister, Deborah Richardson, Seales had been unable to work regularly for the last several months of his life.[5] On May 14, 1990, Seales died at the age of 37 from complications of AIDS at his family's home in Brooklyn.[1][3][4][5][6][7][13][20] He was survived by his mother, his three brothers, and three sisters.[5][6]

In 2011, Franklyn V.E. Seales: Life of An Artist, a biography written by Dorsinville, was published.[3][4]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1974 King Lear Servant to Cornwall Television movie
1978 The Trial of the Moke Lt. Henry O. Flipper Television movie
1979 The Onion Field Jimmy Lee "Youngblood" Smith
1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture Crew member
1980 Beulah Land Roman Miniseries
1981 Macbeth Lennox Direct-to-video release
1981 Southern Comfort Pfc. Simms
1982 Hill Street Blues Crawford 3 episodes
1983 The Taming of the Shrew Petruchio Direct-to-video release
1983 to 1987 Silver Spoons Dexter Stuffins 89 episodes
1986 to 1987 Amen Lorenzo Hollingsworth 3 episodes
1987 Growing Pains Dr. Jerry Marquez Episode: "This Is Your Life"
1988 Wiseguy Paco Bazos Episode: "Fascination for the Flame"

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Stodghill, Alexis Garrett (1 December 2011). "Black celebrities who died of AIDS: We remember you". The Grio. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Franklyn Seales biography at The New York Times
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m McCallister, Jared (15 July 2012). "Biography of Franklyn Seales chronicles late actor’s fascinating journey from St. Vincent to stardom". Daily News. Retrieved 25 March 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Biography of Franklyn Seales chronicles late actor’s fascinating journey from St. Vincent to stardom". Daily News. 15 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Folkart, Burt A. (15 May 1990). "Stage Actor Seales Dies of AIDS at 37". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 March 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Franklyn Seales, Co-Star of 'Silver Spoons', Of AIDS". Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 78 (9): 54. 1990-06-11. ISSN 0021-5996. 
  7. ^ a b "Franklyn Seales". Orlando Sentinel. 16 May 1990. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c "Remembering The Icons On World AIDS Day: 21 Famous Gay Personalities Who Died Of AIDS". December 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Dorsinville, Jean M. (2011). "FRANKLYN V.E. SEALES: Life of an Artist". iUniverse. ISBN 9781462033324. 
  10. ^ a b Dorsinville, Jean M.; Seales, Lennox (2011). "Curtain Call: The Life and Times of Franklyn Vincent Ellison Seales". AuthorHouse. ISBN 9781452095547. 
  11. ^ a b Dorsinville, Jean M. (2011). "Curtain Call: FRANKLYN V.E. SEALES His Life and Times". AuthorHouse. ISBN 9781452095554. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f 'Life of an Artist' Biography of Franklyn Seales (interview with Author) on YouTube
  13. ^ a b Gonzalez, Sujeiry (29 November 2013). "15 Celebrities Who Passed Away From AIDS". Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  14. ^ "Franklyn Seales Movies". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  15. ^ Hollywood.com
  16. ^ "Franklyn Seales". Tcm.com. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  17. ^ Paietta, Ann C. (2005). Saints, Clergy and Other Religious Figures on Film and Television, 1895–2003. McFarland. ISBN 9781476610160. 
  18. ^ "Black Celebrities Who Died of AIDS". 24 March 2007. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  19. ^ Rizov, Vadim (29 January 2013). "“Tough Little Stories”: Director Walter Hill at 92Y Tribeca". Filmmaker. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  20. ^ Als, Hilton (22 June 2009). "World of Whimsy". The New Yorker. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 

External links[edit]