James Franciscus – Biography, Wife, Children, Life, Death and Cause of Death

For everything that has a beginning, it will definitely have an end. This axiom has been proven true time after time in almost every aspect of human endeavor including the lives we live. The end came for American actor James Franciscus on the 8th of July 1991 when he was struck dead by a disease characterized with breathing problems. Though the actor is no more, his works still speak for him with different people having divergent opinions about his personality and how they think he should have been or perfect as he was.

What do you think of him? Well, if you have not decided yet or perhaps just getting to know Franciscus, how about we tell you the story of his life here so you can have an informed opinion about who he really is. Read on…

James Franciscus’ Biography

The late thespian (James Grover Franciscus) was born in Clayton, Missouri, the United States of America on the 31st day of January in the year 1934 to Lorraine (née Grover) and John Allen Franciscus. His father served as a soldier during World War II (1939-1945) but was reported to have died while in combat. James’ mother thereafter remarried a certain man said to be a New York investor at the time.

As he grew up, he passed through high school and enrolled at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut to study English and Theatre Arts. There, he studied alongside Amerian actor Bill Hinnant and talk show personality, Dick Cavett. Upon the completion of his studies, James Franciscus graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 1957.

Prior to his graduation, James made his acting debut as the character Johnny Doyle in the film Four Boys and a Gun which was shot in the summer break preceding his senior year. The following year, he added The Mugger to his acting profile playing as the character Eddie Baxter. Franciscus then earned his first major role in ABC’s Naked City acting as Detective Jim Halloran in the police drama series which first ran from 1958-1959 and then 1960-1963. His next big role came with the CBS adventure/drama television series titled The Investigators. In the series, he acted with Jackie Cooper in the 13 weeks series playing as Russ Andrews, an insurance investigator.

James Franciscus in Beneath The Planet of Apes
James Franciscus in Beneath The Planet of Apes (image source)

James Franciscus notched up his career with more roles in projects like Miracle of the White Stallions (1963), Snow Treasure (1968), Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), The Dream Makers (1975), When Time Ran Out (1980), Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (1981), Secret Weapons (1985) and many others.

His most notable works are TV series Longstreet (1971-1972) and Mr. Novak (1963 to 1965) and movies, The Naked City, and The Investigators.

Family: Wife and Children

The late actor’s first record of falling in love was with Jane Fonda who he met in the summer after his college graduation while working in a stock theater. The likeness was mutual between the two as they even began a relationship afterward. Jane admitted in her autobiography that James Franciscus was the first man she fell in love with. However, when the actor proposed, she turned him down.

Over the course of 3 years, Franciscus healed totally from what may presumably be his first major heartbreak. He fell in love with the daughter of film director William A. Wellman – Kathleen Wellman and on the 28th day of March 1960, the two were pronounced husband and wife. They had 4 daughters (Jamie, Kellie, Korie, and Jolie), a record number of kids for a Hollywood celebrity to have at that time.

In the course of their barely 1-decade old marriage, the couple split in what otherwise seemed like a strong marriage. It is remarkable to note at this point that James Franciscus never allowed his work to interfere with his family responsibilities. His contracts were such that he won’t have a need to be working at a time he should be having dinner with his family or even on weekends.

Despite all these, when the cankerworm of marriage entered, it ate deep into the love that once brought Kathleen and James together. Following their split in the late ’70s, he had custody of all their kids but by the time they amicably divorced, they split parenting responsibilities which had the younger girls staying with their mom while the older ones stayed with their father.

James Franciscus got married a second time to Carla Ankney in 1980. He was still married until the time of his demise in 1991.

See Also: Bert Convy Bio, Wife, Children, Is He Dead or Still Alive?

Life, Death, and Cause of Death

The late Clayton, Missouri born actor lived a life adored by many people while in some forums, some others expressed their distaste for him mainly stemming from a character they saw him play. In all, he had a lucrative career, was a doting father and perhaps husband too. However, when death came calling, both his admirers and critics all expressed sadness over his passing and we assume you do too.

James Franciscus was described as a heavy smoker who never ended a day without having his fill of 4 packs of cigarette. He died at the age of 57 in the year 1991 in North Hollywood, California. His health came crumbling down due to a disease known as emphysema. It is a type of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which severely and progressively impairs the lungs of a patient with breathing problems characterized by poor airflow, shortness of breath, cough with sputum and longterm breathing difficulties.


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