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John Frankenheimer

John Frankenheimer

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Also Known As: Alan Smithee Died: July 6, 2002
Born: February 19, 1930 Cause of Death: died from a stroke following spinal surgery
Birth Place: Malba, New York, USA Profession: Director ... director producer screenwriter actor
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BIOGRAPHY

Having emerged from the era of 1950s live television, director John Frankenheimer quickly became a Hollywood wunderkind after directing several highly-regarded films before suffering a series of setbacks that nearly crippled his career, only to have one of the truly great comebacks of American cinema. Frankenheimer began his career directing some 150-odd live television dramas in the 1950s and early 1960s, contributing memorable installments to anthology series like "Playhouse 90" (CBS, 1956-1960). Though he made his feature debut in 1957 with "The Young Stranger," he began his feature career proper with "The Young Savages" (1961), which began a successful five-picture collaboration with actor Burt Lancaster. The pair reunited for one of Frankenheimer's most well-received films, "Birdman of Alcatraz" (1962), though the best for the director was yet to come. With "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962), Frankenheimer directed a chilling thriller that not only held up over the ensuing decades, but entered the pantheon of true Hollywood classics. Frankenheimer followed with "Seven Days in May" (1964), a frighteningly realistic White House coup-de-tat that reportedly received behind the scene support from President John F. Kennedy. Following lesser known films like "The Train" (1965) and "Grand Prix" (1966), as well as the tragic assassination of close friend Robert F. Kennedy, Frankenheimer entered a dark period marred by depression, alcoholism and an inability to direct a hit film. Though he saw some success with "The French Connection II" (1975) and "Black Sunday" (1977), Frankenheimer floundered throughout the 1970s and 1980s, before rejuvenating his career on the small screen in the 1990s, winning four Emmy Awards in five years for directing "Against the Wall" (HBO, 1994), "The Burning Season" (HBO 1994), "Andersonville" (TNT, 1996) and "George Wallace" (TNT, 1997). The newfound success allowed him to make a triumphant return to features with "Ronin" (1998), an old school Cold War spy thriller that gave Frankenheimer one last success on the big screen and cemented his reputation as the undisputed master of the political thriller.

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