In 1962 Francks formed a jazz trio with Henstridge and the guitarist Lenny Breau, appearing in nightclubs in Toronto and New York (eg, at the Village Vanguard, where they made the LP Jackie Gleason Says No One in This World Is Like Don Francks, Kapp KRS-4501, in 1963). Remaining in New York, he recorded Lost... and Alone (1965, Kapp KS-3417) and appeared on Broadway in the musicals Kelly (1965) and Flipside (1968), both unsuccessful productions, and off Broadway (1965) in a program of theatre songs by Leonard Bernstein. In 1967 he played Woody in the Hollywood film of Finian's Rainbow.
After a hiatus, during which he lived on the Red Pheasant Reserve in western Saskatchewan, Francks resumed his career in the mid-1970s, appearing in several Canadian cities in jazz clubs and theatres. In 1975 in Saskatoon he staged The Insanity of One Man, using musicians from the reservation. Returning to live in Toronto he played Lugerio in 1977 in the musical adaptation by Alan Gordon and Doug Riley of Mandragola for a CBC broadcast performance and cast recording (LM-448). He again took dramatic roles on CBC TV and radio, winning ACTRA awards for his work in the TV movie Drying Up the Streets and the TV series 'The Phoenix Team' in 1980 and 1981 respectively. He also served as narrator for CBC TV's 'The Land' and has been seen in such productions as Riel (1979) and Labor of Love (1985). Concurrently Francks has performed in Toronto nightclubs (frequently at Basin Street in 1978 and on occasion at George's Spaghetti House thereafter) and appeared at the Ontario Place jazz festivals of 1979 and 1984.
Of Francks' varied career, Bob Blackburn (Toronto Telegram, 22 Aug 1963) suggested: 'He's furiously driven to communicate with people. He is full of things he wants to say, but so diversely gifted in means of expression that he can't settle on one way to communicate. He keeps trying them all'. Francks wrote the libretto for Ron Collier's Hear Me Talkin' to Ya (1964), basing his text on quotations from jazz musicians and writers. His Growing Up, a jazz waltz, has been recorded by Paul Hoffert and Moe Koffman. Francks also has written many songs.
Franklin, Stephen. 'Don Francks: snarling on top of the world,' Weekend Magazine, 30 Jan 1965
Coxson, Mona. 'Don Francks is moving in many different ways,' CanComp, 143, Sep 1979
Bearden, Jim and Butler, Linda Jean. 'A jack of all trades and master of most,' Maclean's, 13 Oct 1980