Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Scott Frakes (born August 19, 1952) is an American actor and director. Frakes is best known for his portrayal of Commander William T. Riker in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and subsequent films. Frakes also hosted the television series Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction. In June 2011, Frakes narrated the History Channel documentary Lee and Grant. He was the voice for David Xanatos in the Disney television series Gargoyles.

Jonathan Frakes
Jonathan Frakes Photo Op GalaxyCon Minneapolis 2019.jpg
Frakes at GalaxyCon Minneapolis in 2019
Jonathan Scott Frakes

(1952-08-19) August 19, 1952 (age 68)
OccupationActor, director
Years active1978–present
Known forWilliam T. Riker
(m. 1988)

Frakes directed while starring in Star Trek: First Contact as well as Star Trek: Insurrection. He has directed more than 70 television episodes, including episodes of several Star Trek television series and The Orville. He is the author of the novel The Abductors: Conspiracy.[1]

Early lifeEdit

Frakes was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, the son of Doris J. (née Yingling) and Dr. James R. Frakes. His father was a professor of English literature at Lehigh University from 1958 to 2001, where he was the Edmund W. Fairchild Professor in American Studies. He also was a critic for the New York Times Book Review and book editor until his death in 2002.[2] Frakes had a younger brother, Daniel, who died in 1997 from pancreatic cancer.[3]

Frakes grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. A 1970 graduate of Bethlehem's Liberty High School, he ran track and played with the Liberty High School Grenadier Band.[4] Frakes received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Arts at Pennsylvania State University in 1974, where he was a member of the Thespians and a MA from Harvard University in 1976.


Frakes in 2019

For a time in the 1970s, Frakes worked for Marvel Comics, appearing at conventions in costume as Captain America.[5] Frakes moved to New York City and became a member of the Impossible Ragtime Theater. In that company, Frakes did his first off-Broadway acting in Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape directed by George Ferencz. His first Broadway appearance was in Shenandoah. At the same time, he landed a role in the NBC soap opera The Doctors.[6] When his character was dismissed from the show, Frakes moved to Los Angeles and had guest spots in many of the top television series of the 1970s and 1980s, including The Waltons in an episode called "The Legacy"; Eight Is Enough; Hart to Hart; The Dukes of Hazzard; Matlock; Quincy, M.E. in "The Face of Fear"; and Hill Street Blues.

He played the part of Charles Lindbergh in a 1983 episode of Voyagers! titled "An Arrow Pointing East". In 1983, he had a role in the short-lived NBC prime time soap opera Bare Essence (which also starred his future wife Genie Francis), and a supporting role in the equally short-lived primetime soap Paper Dolls in 1984.[6] He also had recurring roles in Falcon Crest[6] and the miniseries North and South. Frakes appeared in the 1986 miniseries Dream West.

In 1987 Frakes was cast in the role of Commander William T. Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation.[7] He was one of only two actors to appear in every episode until the series' conclusion in 1994. He also directed 14 episodes of the show[8] and reprised his role in the spin-off movies, two of which (Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection) he also directed.[9]

As well as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Frakes has made appearances in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: Picard, and Star Trek: Lower Decks. He is the only Star Trek regular to appear on six different Star Trek series, followed by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry and Marina Sirtis in five series. He has also directed episodes in five of the series (TNG, DS9, VOY, DIS, and PIC).

He also reprised his role of Riker for a Next Generation cutaway on an episode of Family Guy that also featured his co-stars Patrick Stewart and Michael Dorn as their respective roles of Picard and Worf. Later, he again played himself on another Family Guy episode, where all seven main TNG actors (plus Denise Crosby and Wil Wheaton) made voice appearances. He is also one of six Star Trek actors (the other actors being Kate Mulgrew, Michael Dorn, George Takei, Avery Brooks and Majel Barrett) to lend their voices to the video game Star Trek: Captain's Chair, reprising his role as Riker when users visit the Enterprise-D bridge featured in the game.

Much of Frakes' acting work after Star Trek has been animation voice acting, most notably voicing the recurring role of David Xanatos in the animated series Gargoyles, and he provided the voice of his own head in a jar in the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before". He had a small, uncredited role in the 1994 movie Camp Nowhere. Frakes was also the voice of Finn the Human's adult version in the episodes "Puhoy" and "Dungeon Train" on Adventure Time.

Frakes was an executive producer for the WB series Roswell, directed several episodes, and guest-starred in three episodes. His relationship with Star Trek is made light of in the season 3 episode "Secrets and Lies", in which the alien character Max auditions for a guest role as an alien for Star Trek: Enterprise.

Frakes appeared on the 1994 Phish album Hoist, playing trombone on the track titled "Riker's Mailbox". Frakes would occasionally perform on the trombone during his tenure as Commander Riker, drawing on his college marching band experience. He was also a member of "The Sunspots", a vocal backup group of Star Trek cast members that appeared on Brent Spiner's 1991 album Ol' Yellow Eyes Is Back.

Frakes hosted The Paranormal Borderline, a television series on UPN, which dealt with the paranormal and mysterious happenings and creatures. In one episode, Frakes presented an interview of reporter Yolanda Gaskins with veteran astronaut Gordon Cooper, where they discussed the possibility of aliens having visited Earth in the past.[10][11] Overall, the show was criticized and pulled off the air after it was discovered that footage showing a yeti from the Himalayas was purposely faked by the show and its producers. The "Snowwalker" footage, as it is known, purportedly shows a yeti crossing through a valley in the Himalayas, walking in front of a Belgian couple who are traversing the area on skis. The network finally admitted the hoax, and Frakes distanced himself from the show. He hosted Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, which also dealt with the paranormal world.

Frakes and Francis appeared together in Lois & Clark in the episode "Don't Tug on Superman's Cape" as a creepily too-good-to-be-true couple. He narrated the History Channel's That's Impossible.

In addition to Roswell, Frakes has directed episodes of Leverage,[12] Castle, NCIS: Los Angeles, Burn Notice, Falling Skies and most recently Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Switched at Birth, Hit the Floor, The Librarians, and The Orville.

Frakes works with the Workshops, the Waterfall Arts Center, and the Saltwater Film Society, all located in Maine, where he teaches classes on film direction. He and his wife owned a home furnishings store in Belfast, Maine, called The Cherished Home, which closed in August 2012 due to his wife being too busy with her acting to spend adequate time at the store.[13]

Personal lifeEdit

Frakes first met actress Genie Francis on the set of the television soap opera Bare Essence, and again while filming the mini-series North and South. They began dating in 1985, became engaged in 1986, and married on May 28, 1988. The couple has two children. They moved from Belfast, Maine, to Beverly Hills, California, in 2008 and later moved to Calabasas, California.[14]


Year Title Role Notes
1994 Camp Nowhere Bob Spiegel
Star Trek Generations Commander William T. Riker
1995 Time Travel Through the Bible Himself / Host
1996 Star Trek: First Contact Commander William T. Riker Nominated–Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated–Saturn Award for Best Director
1998 Star Trek: Insurrection
2002 Star Trek: Nemesis Commander/Captain William T. Riker
Clockstoppers Janitor uncredited
2004 Thunderbirds Policeman uncredited
2011 The Captains Himself/Captain William T. Riker
2017 Devil's Gate Sheriff
Year Title Role Notes
1978 Charlie's Angels Brad Episode: "Angel on My Mind"
Barnaby Jones David Douglas Episode: "Stages of Fear"
Fantasy Island Kirk Wendover Episode: "The War Games/Queen of the Boston Bruisers"
1979 The Waltons Ashley Longworth Jr. Episodes: "The Lost Sheep" and "The Legacy"
Eight Is Enough Chapper Episode: "Separate Ways"
The White Shadow Basketball Player Episode: "One of the Boys" (uncredited)
1980 Beulah Land Adam Davis
The Night the City Screamed Richard Hawkins
1981 The Dukes of Hazzard Jamie Lee Hogg Episode: "Mrs. Daisy Hogg"
Harper Valley Clutch Breath Episode: "Low Noon"
1982 Hart to Hart Adam Blake Episode: "Harts and Palms"
Hill Street Blues Drug dealer Episode: "Of Mouse and Man"
Quincy, M.E. Leon Bohannon/Surgeon Episode: "The Face of Fear" and "Ghost of a Chance"
Voyagers! Charles Lindbergh Episode: "An Arrow Pointing East"
1983 Bare Essence Marcus Marshall Several episodes.
1984 Highway to Heaven Arthur Krock, Jr. Episode: "A Devine Madness"
Five Mile Creek Adam Scott Episode: "Gold Fever"
The Fall Guy Connors Episode: "Always Say Always"
1985 The Twilight Zone Single Guy Episode: "But Can She Type?"
North and South Stanley Hazard
1986 Dream West Lt. Archibald Gillespie
Matlock D.A. Park Episode: "The Angel"
1987–1994 Star Trek: The Next Generation Commander William T. Riker 176 episodes - Also portrayed transporter duplicate Lt. Thomas Riker in Second Chances
1988 Reading Rainbow Himself Episode: "The Bionic Bunny Show"
1994 Wings Gavin Rutledge Episode: "All's Fare"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Lt. Thomas Riker Episode: "Defiant"
Journey's End: The Saga of Star Trek: The Next Generation Host Documentary
1994–1996 Gargoyles David Xanatos, Coyote Voice
1995 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Tim Lake Episode: "Don't Tug on Superman's Cape"
Cybill Himself Episode: "Starting on the Wrong Foot"
Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction? Host/Narrator
1996 Star Trek: Voyager Commander William T. Riker Episode: "Death Wish"
1998–2002 Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction? Himself 45 episodes
1999 Roswell Himself Episode: "The Convention"
2000 3rd Rock from the Sun Larry McMichael Episode: "Gwen, Larry, Dick and Mary"
2000 Ghosts: Caught on Tape Narrator
2002 Futurama Himself Voice; Episode: "Where No Fan Has Gone Before"
2005 Star Trek: Enterprise Commander William T. Riker Episode: "These Are the Voyages..."
2005,2009 Family Guy Commander William T. Riker/Himself Episodes: "Peter's Got Woods" & "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven"
2009 Leverage Patient in Neck Brace Episode: "The Snow Job" (uncredited)
2010 Criminal Minds Dr. Arthur Malcolm Episode: "The Uncanny Valley"
NCIS: Los Angeles Navy Commander Dr. Stanfill Episode: "Disorder"
2011 The Super Hero Squad Show High Evolutionary Voice; Episode: "The Devil Dinosaur You Say!"
2012 Leverage Man at Consumer Products Safety Commission Episode: "The Toy Job" (uncredited)
Castle Richard Castle Fan Episode "The Final Frontier" (uncredited)
2013 Adventure Time Adult Finn Voice; Episodes: "Puhoy" and "Dungeon Train"
2014 Hit the Floor Hank Episode: "Blow Out"
2016–2017 Guardians of the Galaxy J'son Voice; 12 episodes
2016 Miles from Tomorrowland Grandpa Vincent Voice; Episodes: "Galactech: Still Rocketing/Merc's Night Out" & "The Adventures of Jet Retrograde/The Tiny Aliens"
Future-Worm! Steak Starbolt Voice
2018 After Trek Himself Aftershow
Episode 11
2019 How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) Himself Episode: "Life's Not Fair, Get Used to It"
2020 Star Trek: Picard Captain William T. Riker Episodes: "Nepenthe" & "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2"
The Ready Room Himself Aftershow
3 episodes
Star Trek: Lower Decks Captain William T. Riker Episode: "No Small Parts"
Video games
Year Title Role Notes
1995 Multimedia Celebrity Poker Himself [15]

Directing filmographyEdit

Feature filmsEdit



  1. ^ Jonathan Frakes; Dean Wesley Smith (1996). The Abductors: Conspiracy. New York: Tor. ISBN 978-0-312-86208-4.
  2. ^ "James R. Frakes". The Morning Call. Allentown, Pennsylvania. March 15, 2002. pp. B.10.
  3. ^ "Daniel M. Frakes". The Morning Call. Allentown, Pennsylvania. May 19, 1997. p. A09.
  4. ^ Sylvia Lawler (September 25, 1988). "Jonathan Frakes's career beams up Bethlehem actor scores as 'Star Trek' commander". The Morning Call. Allentown, PA. pp. T.01.
  5. ^ Brian Cronin (July 4, 2006). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #58". Comics Should Be Good!.
  6. ^ a b c Nemecek, Larry (1992). "Rebirth". In Stern, Dave (ed.). The Star Trek The Next Generation Companion. 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020: Pocket Books. p. 18. ISBN 0-671-79460-4.CS1 maint: location (link)
  7. ^ Sylvia Lawler (May 5, 1986). "Making history: "North and South's" Jonathan Frakes is crafting his future– History yields a good part for Jonathan Frakes". The Morning Call. Allentown, PA. pp. D.01. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011.
  8. ^ "Frakes". Star Trek. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
  9. ^ "Trek Directors' School: Jonathan Frakes". Star Trek. Retrieved January 30, 2020.
  10. ^ Video on YouTube
  11. ^ "UFO Folklore Center – Transcript of Interview". Archived from the original on February 5, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2020.
  12. ^ Turner Network. "Leverage Season 3 Episode Synopses". Turner Network. Archived from the original (Microsoft Word document) on March 15, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  13. ^ "Log In or Sign Up to View".
  14. ^ McFly, Marty (August 15, 2013). "Celeb R.E.: Jonathan Frakes from Star Trek and Genie Francis From General Hospital Move to Woodland Hills". San Fernando Valley Blogspot. Blogger. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Hibberd, James (June 27, 2017). "Star Trek: Discovery scoop: Jonathan Frakes joins as director". Entertainment Weekly. United States: Time Inc. Retrieved June 27, 2017.

External linksEdit