James Grover Franciscus (James Grover Franciscus)

James Grover Franciscus

Actor. He is best remembered for his title roles in three television series:  Mr. Novak (1963-1965), Longstreet (1971-1972) and Hunter (1976-1977). Born in Clayton, Missouri, he was the son of John Allen and Loraine Grover Franciscus. When he was a young boy, his father, a pilot in World War II, was killed in action.  He and his brother, John, would continue on pursuing their goals.  James graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in 1957, with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theater.  Moving to Hollywood, his first role was a cameo guest role on “Whirlybirds” (1957), and shortly afterwards, had his breakthrough guest role as Detective Jim Halloran in the television series “The Naked City” (1958).  He would take roles in both movies and television, appearing in movies such as “Miracle of the White Stallions” (1963), “Marooned” (1969), and “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970).  He reportedly got the role of Brent in “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970), the second movie and first sequel in the series of five movies, due to his close resemblance to actor Charleston Heston, who was the lead star in the first “Planet of the Apes” (1968) movie.  Throughout his career in the 1960s and 1970s, he would make cameo guest roles in such television series as Combat, Twelve O’Clock High, Wagon Train, The FBI, Rawhide, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and General Electric Theater.  In the 1970s and 1980s, he would also work in Italian films, playing in “The Cat o’ Nine Tails” (1971), and in “Killer Fish” (1979).  His work in this last film resulted in his role of Peter Benton in the Italian “Jaws” copycat film “L’ Ultimo Squalo” (1980), which was also marketed in English countries as “Great White” and “The Last Jaws” both of which were successfully sued by Universal Studios for copyright infringement, and have been blocked from being shown in the United States.  He also co-founded Omnibus Productions, producing many classic films such as “Heidi” (1968), “Jane Eyre” (1970), “Kidnapped” (1986), and “A Girl named Sooner” (1975).   In 1970, he founded the James Franciscus Celebrity Tennis Tournament to help raise money for multiple sclerosis research, in part due to his mother having suffered from that disease.  An avid athletic, he enjoyed tennis, skydiving and scuba diving.  In March 1960, he married Kathleen “Kitty” Wellman, daughter of director William A. Wellman, and they would have four daughters:  Jamie, Kellie, Corie and Jolie.  In 1979, he divorced Kitty to marry Carla Ankney, who lived with him until his death of emphysema in 1991 at the age of 57. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson) Cause of death: Emphysema


  • January, 31, 1934


  • July, 07, 1991

Cause of Death

  • Emphysema


  • Cremated

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