October 8, 1996
Tragic star had 1,000-watt smile
Actor had bright future until 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 1,000-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 ½ 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 New York 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. He was really sharp ascerbic sense of humor and was always gregarious and never unapproachable. It’s very difficult to imagine that he’s gone.”
Frankel first came to the attention of American tv audiences in TNT’s 1991 mini-series “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 violinist/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 mini-series “Michelangelo – A Season of Giants.”
In Sept. 1994, Frankel was introduced as the suave superagent-for-hire Carlton Dial in FOX’s “Fortune Hunter.”
FOX quickly cancelled “Fortune Hunter,” but was so impressed with Frankel the network called on him to headline Aaron Spelling’s “Kindred: The Embraced,” which aired last spring.
Frankel played Julian Luna, a powerful vampire Prince battling a homicide 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 just finished a movie in Europe called “Rosanne’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 gorgeous smile but was so down-to-earth – and that made him even more attractive.”