Don Harvey Francks, actor, jazz musician, environmental activist (born 28 February 1932 in Burnaby, BC; died 3 April 2016 in Toronto, ON).
Don Harvey Francks, actor, jazz musician, environmental activist (born 28 February 1932 in Burnaby, BC; died 3 April 2016 in Toronto, ON). Don Francks, an adopted child and perennial free spirit, was singing at age 6 and acting at 10. He worked briefly as a boy disc jockey in Vancouver before leaving school to join the merchant marine. He came to prominence in dramatic roles and as a writer and revue artist in Spring Thaw. He achieved "failed Broadway star" status on 16 February 1964 when the musical Kelly folded after one night. He continued to act in New York and made appearances in American TV series like Jericho and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. In his final stab at stardom, the Hollywood film version of Finian's Rainbow (1968), he starred alongside Fred Astaire and Petula Clark.
Don Francks left show business to live on the Red Pheasant Reserve in Saskatchewan with his second wife, Lili. He became an honorary Cree, taking the name Iron Buffalo. He returned to entertainment in the late 1970s, narrating the CBC series This Land, performing and recording with his jazz group, recording record albums and acting as a spokesperson for Greenpeace. He won 2 successive ACTRA Awards for performances in CBC's Drying Up the Streets (1980) and The Phoenix Team (1981).
This versatile actor continued to be seen on TV programs like Kung Fu, Road to Avonlea, Top Cops, The Diviners, Flamingo Estates and Side Effects. He had a regular role in the series Nikita and appeared in This Is Wonderland, Puppets Who Kill and The Listener. His feature film credits included The Drylanders, Ivy League Killers, The Tomorrow Man, Old Fish Hawk, Labour of Love, Good Times at the Rainbow Bar and Grill (which also featured his daughter Cree Summer), The Big Town, Johnny Mnemonic, Paint Cans and I'm Not There. His son, Rainbow Sun, is also an actor.