|MARK FRANKEL - A PROFILE AND GALLERY|
Born on 13 June 1962 and raised in London, England, Mark Frankel came from a family accomplished in a variety of the fine arts, including his grandmother, a concert pianist and his grandfather, a prominent violinist and conductor. He started acting in the theater when he was 10 years old and acted until he was 16. He then discontinued his acting and became more involved in his studies at school until age 20, when he returned to acting. He studied amateur dramatics, took numerous classes, and studied with Jack Walzer from the Actors Studio in New York. At that point, he decided to attend drama school for classical training. He was awarded a full three-year scholarship to one of the top drama schools in England, London's prestigious Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts.
It was during a performance in a play that he was spotted by a British casting agent and cast in the TNT mini-series A Season of Giants, winning the lead role of Michelangelo over more than 80 actors screen-testing for the part. The mini-series took Frankel on location to Italy, where he spent five months filming and working with F. Murray Abraham, John Glover, Ian Holm, and Steven Berkoff. Mark describes his first big break: "After graduation, while doing four plays in London, I auditioned for a film called A Season of Giants which was a TNT film about the life of Michelangelo. That same evening the director came to my play and asked me to star in his film. That was my first big break. It was very exciting because I had been out of drama school for only a month."
Frankel also appeared in Maigret opposite Michael Gambon; the episode was shot in Budapest, Hungary for Granada Television. In Leningrad, Russia, he filmed TNT's Young Catherine playing the role of Count Orlov and starring opposite acting legends Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Plummer, Franco Nero, and Maximillan Schell. Catherine was played by Julie Ormond, also a graduate (1988) of the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Frankel's feature film credits include the title role in Leon the Pig Farmer which was released in Europe in 1993 and won the Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival and the Charlie Chaplin Award at the Edinburgh Film Festival that same year. The movie is a delightful and hilarious comedy of a young man's search for his true identity and eventual acceptance of his past. It was after Leon the Pig Farmer that he felt it was time to visit Hollywood, as he had never been there before. He had been in Hollywood for about ten days, and his manager had set up some meetings for him, one of them being with the casting director of Sisters. He was offered the role of "Simon Bolt." It was a role that he initially declined because he did not want the commitment of a regular TV series; he wanted the freedom to pursue other opportunities. However, the producers continued to pursue him, and he eventually accepted. In the end, he was glad, and the timing was perfect for his career.
Other feature film credits include For Roseanna with Jean Reno and Mercedes Ruehl, and Solitaire for Two with Amanda Pays. Other television credits include Fortune Hunter and Kindred: the Embraced, both for Fox television.
Frankel also appeared in the London stage productions of "A Streetcar Named Desire" in the role of Stanley Kowalski, "Days of Cavafy" and "Agamemnon" in the title role. Additionally, he played the lead roles in "Little Hands," "Sentimental," and "A Private Death."
Frankel was a world-class championship tennis player on the international circuit, having won the "Monte Carlo Open." In addition, the actor, who was an avid reader, enjoyed building and customizing vintage motorcycles.
During his filming of Young Catherine, tragedy struck his family. His older brother was killed in an aircraft accident, a mid-air collision between two small planes. The pilots and passengers of both planes were killed. An experienced acrobatics pilot, Joe Frankel flew his plane as far from populated areas as he could, but he did not survive the eventual impact. Mark, just three years younger than his brother, lost his only sibling. Together, they had been risk-takers, performing aerial stunts and skydiving. Their father had been a pilot in the Royal Air Force.
Mark himself was an avid motorcyclist and was especially proud of his yellow Harley Davidson, one of only six in the world. It was on that bike that Mark Frankel fell victim to the accident that took his life on 24 September 1996.
He had married French advertising account executive Caroline Besson in 1991, and together they had two children, the second being born after his death.
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