Home   >   Movie Stars   >   F   >   John Frankenheimer
John Frankenheimer

John Frankenheimer

John Frankenheimer brings his notorious love of complicated characters and trademark attention to riveting details to REINDEER GAMES, his latest suspense thriller. Frankenheimer is renowned for films that explore underlying social and philosophical themes in a relentlessly exciting manner. His work includes Birdman of Alcatraz and The Fixer, which both explore the indomitable human spirit; Seven Days In May, which details the political suspense of a U.S. military coup; The Manchurian Candidate, an indictment of the McCarthy Era; The Train, which questions the value of art versus a human life; and Black Sunday and Year of the gun, which confront international terrorism.

Frankenheimer's other credits include such intimate, psychological films as All Fall Down, Seconds and The Iceman Cometh, as well as such action-oriented pictures as Grand Prix, French Connection II, Gypsy Moths, The Horseman, Elmore Leonard's 52 Pick Up and the recent hit thriller Ronin. Other films include I Walk the Line, The Impossible Object, Prophecy, 'The Challenge, The Holcroft Covenant, Dead Bang and The Fourth War." His cameras have ridden on racing cars, trains, motorcycles and parachutes. They have been knocked around in riots and languorously slowed down in love scenes.

Born in New York, John Frankenheimer grew up in Queens and developed two lifelong passions: tennis, which he once considered playing professionally, and the movies. He was active in theater at Williams College but his first experience making movies came in the Air Force, where he directed documentaries while station in Burbank, California. He went on to become an assistant director for television, sharpening his skills on such shows as Person to Person, See It Now, Danger and You Are There. He eventually became one of two directors of the weekly Climax! dramatic series, and soon after that directed 42 episodes of the now-famous Playhouse 90 series.

Frankenheimer is considered one of the major contributors to the Golden Age of television. He directed 152 live television dramas between 1954 and 1960, including The Last Tycoon with Jack Palance, For Whom The Bell Tolls with Jason Robards and Maureen Stapleton, The Comedian with Mickey Rooney and Kim Hunter, the original Days of Wine and Roses with Cliff Robertson and Piper Laurie, Old Man with Geraldine Page and Sterling Hayden, The Turn of the Screw with Ingrid Bergman, Face of a Hero" with Jack Lemmon and Sir John Guilgud's first television appearance in The Browning Version. During this period, the director garnered six nominations for the Best Director Emmy, and twice won the television critics award as best director.

In 1956, Frankenheimer made his feature film debut with The Young Stranger, starring James MacArthur. He later became a major influence on the psychological thriller with the nightmarish tale of political intrigue, The Manchurian Candidate, which remains a prescient classic studied in film schools around the world. The film garnered an Academy Award nomination and was voted Best Motion Picture of 1962 by Film Daily. The film was inducted into the Library of Congress's National Registry in 1992.

Frankenheimer has continued to win acclaim for television motion pictures. He received an Emmy for the HBO feature Against The Wall and then directed The Burning Season, which picked up three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture for Television, several Emmys including Best Director and the Cable Ace Award for Best Director. A third consecutive Emmy came for the TNT mini- series Andersonville. In 1997, Frankenheimer again moved television audiences with George Wallace, starring Gary Sinise, Mare Winningham, Angelina Jolie and Clarence Williams Ill. He won another Emmy for Best Director, the Cable Ace Award for Best Director and Best Film, the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture on Television and the George Foster Peabody Award.

Frankenheimer is also noted for having directed all of Robert F. Kennedy's campaign films in 1968. He had the unfortunate experience of being the person who drove Kennedy to the Ambassador Hotel on the night of his death. Outside of filmmaking, Frankenheimer's passions include gourmet cooking — he studied in Paris at the Cordon Bleu and with chef Michel Guerard — as well as performance cars and tennis. He is married to the former actress Evans Evans.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2002.

John Frankenheimer Facts

Birth NameJohn Michael Frankenheimer
BirthdayFebruary 19, 1930
BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA
Date of deathJuly 6, 2002 (age 72)
Height6' 3" (1m91)  How tall is John Frankenheimer compared to you?

Selected Filmography

52 Pick-Up
The Holcroft Covenant
The Island of Dr. Moreau
The Manchurian Candidate
Seven Days in May
Path To War
TCM Greatest Classic Legends Film Collection: Burt Lancaster
Continue » Find more details on the John Frankenheimer Movies page