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Tragic star had 1,000-watt smile

Actor had bright future until a motorcycle crash claimed his life

By Michael Starr

If tragic actor Mark Frankel hadn't yet tasted TV-series success in his too-short life, that really didn't matter -- he was about to become a dad for the second time.

And that's what triggered the charismatic actor's trademark thousand-watt grin.

Frankel -- who starred in the short-lived Fox series "Fortune Hunter" and "Kindred: the Embraced" -- died early in the afternoon of Sept. 25 in his native England about two hours after crashing his motorcycle, it was revealed over the weekend.

He was 34 and left behind a pregnant wife, Caroline, and 2 1/2-year-old son, Fabien.

"After the initial accident, he didn't appear to have any external injuries so when he was rushed to the hospital, there was some hope," Frankel's publicist and friend Michelle Bega, told The Post. "But then he passed away during surgery."

Bega, who spoke to Frankel a week before his death, repeatedly used the word "gracious" to describe the handsome athletic family man who frequently returned to England to be with his wife and son while shooting on location.

"He was as gracious as he was good-looking, and he was an individual who was so charming and charismatic that you immediately wanted to do your best for him," said Bega. "He was really sharp with an acerbic sense of humor and was always gregarious and never unapprochable. It's very difficult to imagine that he's gone."

Frankel first came to the attention of American TV audiences in TNT's 1991 miniseries "Young Catherine" and also had a recurring role as Simon Bolt on NBC's "Sisters."

The son of a British RAF pilot -- and the grandson of an accomplished concert viiolinist/conductor -- Frankel was a top-ranked amateur tennis player while studying at England's Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts.

He made his feature-film debut as Leon in the award-winning "Leon the Pig farmer" and also starred in the miniseries "Michelangelo -- A Season of Giants."

In September 1994, Frankel was introduced as suave superagent-for-hire Carlton Dial in Fox's "Fortune Hunter."

Fox quickly cancelled "Fortune Hunter" but was so impressed with Frankel that the network called on him to headline "Kindred: the Embraced," which aired last spring.

Frankel played Julian Luna, a powerful vampire Prince battling a homocide detective (C. Thomas Howell) and pursuing a love affair with a newspaper reporter (Kelly Rutherford).

"He was disappointed when 'Kindred' was cancelled because he really wanted it to be given a chance," Bega said.

Frankel had finished a movie in Europe called "Roseanna's Grave" just before his accident, Bega said.

"Mark was gracious in a way that made you forget about how handsome he was and just think of him as a person," Bega said. "He had a blindingly georgeous smile but was so down-to-earth -- and that made him even more attractive."

Copyright (c) 1996 The New York Post

Although it only aired for a few months last spring, Fox's "Kindred: the Embraced," starring Mark Frankel as a modern-day vampire, quickly became a cult favorite. Kelly Rutherford played a reporter who loved him.

Handsome Frankel turned heads as suave secret agent Carlton Dial in "Fortune Hunter" in 1994, and as millionaire tycoon Simon Bolt in NBC's "Sisters" (with Sela Ward and George Clooney) in 1993.
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