Happy Birthday, Jonathan Frakes

Happy birthday to Jonathan Frakes, who celebrates his 63rd birthday today. Frakes, of course, is best known for his role of Commander William T. Riker in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” He spent seven seasons playing the beloved Riker, who we see go from a brash, bold young officer to a more introspective man ready for a command of his own. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role.

We see Riker shine the brightest in episodes like “Best of Both Worlds,” parts 1 and 2, “Second Chances,” “The Outcast,” “Pegasus,” and “Frame of Mind.” In “Best of Both Worlds” we see his potential for command and struggle with difficult decisions, in Second Chances he is forced to come to terms with the decision he made to end his relationship with Counselor Troi. Frame of Mind shows Frakes’s full range of acting skills. Riker is torn between realities, one of performing in Dr. Crusher’s play, another of preparing for an undercover away mission, and one of being an inmate charged with murder in an alien insane asylum.

Frakes is one of only two actors to appear in four different Trek series, with Majel Barrett tying him for that honor. He has also appeared in “Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager” and “Enterprise.” He has additionally directed episodes in three series, TNG, DS9 and Voyager. He most famously directed the TNG movies “First Contact” and “Insurrection,” with “First Contact” generally judged to be the best of the TNG movies.

Jonathan Frakes was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Bethlehem, PA. He graduated high school in 1970, and from Penn State University in the early 70s, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Arts. He is married to actress Genie Francis, whom he met on the set of the soap opera Bare Essence, and again on North and South. They married in 1988 and have 2 children.

Jonathan continues working today, making guest appearances on TV series and doing voice work for animation. He is well known for voicing David Xanatos on “Gargoyles,” and recently provided a voice for adult Finn on the popular Cartoon Network series “Adventure Time.” His major focus is on directing these days. He has directed episodes of “Roswell,” “Dollhouse,” “Castle,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Burn Notice,” and “Marvel’s Agents of Shield” among others. His most recent project is The Librarians on TNT, a spin-off of The Librarian film series.

Spiner, Stewart and Frakes
Frakes with Brent Spiner and Patrick Stewart at this year’s Las Vegas Star Trek convention

He appeared at this year’s Las Vegas Star Trek convention on stage with fellow TNG cast members, and makes appearances at various other fan conventions. If you’re looking for a good laugh, check out his appearance on Nerd Court’s trial of William T. Riker, where they determine if his character is truly awesome or overrated. You can watch it embedded below.

Don’t just tell us you’ll have a great birthday, Mr. Frakes: Make it so, Number One!

You can follow Jonathan Frakes and his travels on Twitter at @jonathansfrakes.

Michelle Toven

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Michelle Toven lives in northern Minnesota, where she does normal things by day and nerdy things by weekend and night. Her interests range from Star Trek, to history, archaeology, languages, fantasy and sci-fi, politics, and cats. Find her on Twitter at @mtoven.

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