John Frankenheimer

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Born

2/19/1930 , Queens, New York City, New York, USA

Died

7/6/2002

Birth Name

John Michael Frankenheimer

Gender

Male

Biography:

John Frankenheimer was made for television in the 1950s. He was a prodigy - joining the TV industry in its infancy as soon as college and the army were done with, he moved up from third assistant to first in a few months, and was also a floor-manager. He was the highest-paid first assistant in New York - not surprisingly, for, in a world where everything went out live, a man who could keep his head and not only handle, but relish, the extremely complicated logistics of doing a TV show under intense pressure was worth his weight in gold. Legend suggests that Frankenheimer got his first job as actual director when the fellow he was nominally assisting gave way to a panic attack, vomiting over his (Frankenheimer's) expensive new suit. Frankenheimer promptly knocked him out and then continued with the business of putting a show out. By the time he was 25, he had notched up quite a few directing credits, including a play called Deal A Blow, which, in 1957, was turned into a Hollywood movie. Frankenheimer went out to the coast to direct, but found it a depressing experience (the studio was going bankrupt), returning to New York swiftly. He directed the television debuts of both John Gielgud (who was deeply impressed by his skill) and Ingrid Bergman, as well as several classic segments of the Playhouse 90. But TV was changing - it was mostly no longer live, and no longer as adventurous as it had been in earlier days. When Frankenheimer got a second movie to direct The Young Savages, he had a far better time, and he made no fewer than three big films the following year, including The Manchurian Candidate, an instant classic. But, as his projects grew bigger and more ambitious, the results seemed to grow less interesting, and in the 70s, he was badly in need of a box-office success - which he didn't find. His career declined further in the 1980s; but in the 1990s, he returned to television, the medium he had always preferred, and to something like his best form, with award-winning TV movies such as George Wallace and The Path To War. His death came unexpectedly, following surgery.