Mark Frankel

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Mark Frankel
Mark Frankel.jpg
Mark D. Frankel

(1962-06-13)13 June 1962
Died24 September 1996(1996-09-24) (aged 34)
Years active1991–1996
Spouse(s)Caroline Besson
Children2 sons – Fabien and Maximilien

Mark Frankel (13 June 1962 – 24 September 1996) was a British actor, known for his leading roles in British film Leon the Pig Farmer and American TV series Kindred: The Embraced.

Early life[edit]

Mark Frankel was born to David Lionel Frankel (a former Royal Air Force pilot) and Grace Frankel[1] on 13 June 1962 and was raised in London. His grandmother was a concert pianist, and his grandfather, a prominent violinist and conductor. He was cast in his first professional theatre role at age 10, but he gave up acting at age 16 to concentrate on school Frensham Heights. When he was 20 he returned to the theatre. He studied amateur dramatics, took numerous classes, and studied with Jack Walzer from the Actors Studio in New York. At that point, he decided to attend drama school for classical training. He was awarded a full three-year scholarship to one of the top drama schools in England, London's prestigious Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts.[2]


It was during a performance in a play that he was spotted by a British casting agent and cast in the TNT mini-series A Season of Giants, winning the lead role of Michelangelo over more than 80 actors screen-testing for the part. The mini-series took Frankel on location to Italy, where he spent five months filming and working with F. Murray Abraham, John Glover, Ian Holm, and Steven Berkoff. Mark describes his first big break: "After graduation, while doing four plays in London, I auditioned for a film called A Season of Giants which was a TNT film about the life of Michelangelo. That same evening the director came to my play and asked me to star in his film. That was my first big break. It was very exciting because I had been out of drama school for only a month."

Frankel also appeared in Maigret opposite Michael Gambon; the episode (Maigret and the Mad Woman) was shot in Budapest, Hungary for Granada Television. In Leningrad, Russia, he filmed TNT's Young Catherine playing the role of Count Orlov and starring opposite acting legends Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Plummer, Franco Nero, and Maximillan Schell. Catherine was played by Julie Ormond, also a graduate (1988) of the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Frankel's feature film credits include the title role in Leon the Pig Farmer which was released in Europe in 1993 and won the Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival and the Charlie Chaplin Award at the Edinburgh Film Festival that same year.

After Leon the Pig Farmer, Frankel made a break for Hollywood. After ten days, his manager had set up some meetings for him, one with the casting director of Sisters. He was offered the role of "Simon Bolt." At first he declined because he did not want to commit to a regular TV series; he wanted the freedom to pursue other opportunities. However, the producers continued to pursue him, and he eventually accepted. In the end, he was glad, and the timing was perfect for his career.

Other feature film credits include For Roseanna with Jean Reno and Mercedes Ruehl, and Solitaire for Two with Amanda Pays. Other television credits include Fortune Hunter and Kindred: the Embraced, both for Fox television.

Frankel also appeared in the London stage productions of A Streetcar Named Desire in the role of Stanley Kowalski, Days of Cavafy and Agamemnon in the title role. Additionally, he played the lead roles in Little Hands, Sentimental, and A Private Death.

Frankel was a world-class championship tennis player on the international circuit, having won the "Monte Carlo Open." In addition, the actor, who was an avid reader, enjoyed building and customising vintage motorcycles.

Personal life[edit]

During his filming of Young Catherine, tragedy struck his family. His older brother was killed in an aircraft accident, a mid-air collision between two small planes. The pilots and passengers of both planes were killed. An experienced acrobatics pilot, Joe Frankel flew his plane as far from populated areas as he could, but he did not survive the eventual impact. Mark, just three years younger than his brother, lost his only sibling. Together, they had been risk-takers, performing aerial stunts and skydiving. Their father had been a pilot in the Royal Air Force.

The 34-year-old actor died in an accident on 24 September 1996 from injuries sustained when he fell off from his yellow custom-built Harley Davidson-powered bike, one of only six in the world of its kind of which Mark was especially proud of. Frankel collided with a lorry in Chiswick, West London. His death is considered a mystery as Mark Frankel was an avid, skilled and careful driver. During the inquest one of the investigators stated that there was no apparent reason for the accident.

The funeral service was carried out at Kingston Liberal Synagogue and was attended by friend, co-stars, professional colleagues and the directors Jason Isaacs and Gary Sinyor who worked previously with Mark Frankel.

He had married French advertising account executive Caroline Besson in 1991, and together they had two children, Fabien, and the second, Max, born after his death. Fabien Frankel (born 1994) is also an actor.



  1. ^ D'Silva, Beverley (12 February 2012). "Grace Frankel on reuniting with her soul mate". Daily Mail.
  2. ^ Sloman,Tony (12 October 1996). "Obituary Mark Frankel". The Independent.

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