was born on August 19, 1952 in the small town of Bellefonte, in central Pennsylvania. His father, James, and his mother, Doris, soon moved with Jonathan and his younger brother, Daniel, to the city of Bethlehem in eastern Pennsylvania. There, Dr. James Frakes taught English at Lehigh University, where today, he still holds the Fairchild chair in American Literature. While growing up, Jonathan was introduced to jazz by his father, and started playing the trombone when he was in fourth grade. As a child, Jonathan was always friendly, funny, and somewhat of an actor, according to a childhood friend.
In high school, Jonathan played in the band and ran track. He graduated from Liberty High in Bethlehem in 1970. The day after he graduated, he started classes at Pennsylvania State University, enrolling as a psychology major. The next summer, he worked as an usher for the local theater, and observed his peers thoroughly enjoying acting. He was motivated to switch his major to theater arts, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1974. He then moved to Boston to attain his master's degree from Harvard University by 1976.
At this point, Jonathan decided to move to New York City, and try to make it as an actor. The roles didn't come easy, so Jonathan had to take side jobs, including a waiter, a furniture mover, and a stint as Captain America for Marvel Comics. Meanwhile, Jonathan won roles in the Broadway musical, Shenandoah, and on the soap opera, The Doctors, as Vietnam vet Tom Carroll from 1977 to 1978.
After urgings from his agent, Jonathan moved to Los Angeles in late 1978 to try his hand at television guest appearances. He guest-starred on several of the big primetime dramas of the time, including Charlie's Angels, Fantasy Island, Barnaby Jones, Quincy, Highway to Heaven, The Waltons, and my personal favorite, The Dukes of Hazzard.
During the 80's Jonathan landed a starring role in a primetime soap opera, Bare Essence, which had spun off from a successful miniseries of the same name. The show didn't take off with the viewers, however, and was canceled soon after. He went back to guest appearances for two more years, until he got the part of Stanley Hazard in the civil war epic, North and South. After spending six months filming all over the southern United States, Jonathan's life changed forever. He and his co-star, Genie Francis, fell in love. He had met Genie three years before when they co-starred in Bare Essence. During that time, he and Genie didn't have much to do with each other, seeing as how she was only 19 years old. But three years later, he and Genie were an item.
In early 1987, Jonathan went to an audition for a new television series. After six weeks, and seven auditions, he won the role that would bring him worldwide fame, that of Commander William Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Also at this time, he and Genie announced their engagement. They would have to postpone their wedding twice because of his job, but were finally married in the first season hiatus on May 28, 1988. All of his new co-stars attended the wedding along with Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry.
In the seven years Jonathan starred on Star Trek, he grew as an actor, and also discovered his talent for directing. He directed eight episodes in all, and was invited to direct on the Next Generation spin-offs, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. By the end of 1994, Jonathan was slated to star in his first feature film, Star Trek: Generations. This was not the only momentous event happening in his life at the time. He and his wife were about to become first-time parents.
The day after Jonathan's 42nd birthday, on August 20, his son, Jameson Ivor Frakes was born. Jameson is named after both his grandfathers, James Frakes, and the late Ivor Francis, Genie's father. During this time, Jonathan actually turned down work, preferring to stay at home and raise his son with his wife. For the next two years, he did a few guest appearances on television, including Cybill, Wings, and Lois and Clark. Jonathan also hosted the Paranormal Borderline and the controversial Alien Autopsy, and voiced a character on the cartoon, Gargoyles. The high point of his career was yet to come.
In 1996, it was announced that Jonathan was to be the director of the next Star Trek film, First Contact. He received critical praise for his work on the film, making it the highest grossing film of the franchise to date. By the end of 1996, Jonathan was sought after as a motion picture director, signing on to direct Total Recall 2, which may or may not be filmed in 2001. He formed a production company, Goepp Circle Productions, named after the street he lived on in Bethlehem, PA. Also at this time, Jonathan and Genie were expecting their second child. Just two days after their ninth wedding anniversary, Elizabeth Francis Frakes was born. Sadly, two weeks prior to Elizabeth's birth, Jonathan's brother, Daniel, passed away due to pancreatic cancer.
In 1998, Jonathan was again asked to direct the ninth Star Trek film, Insurrection. While this film was not as successful as its predecessor, Jonathan was no less proud of it. Film offers kept coming in to his company, and he kept acting.
By the end of 2000, he has appeared in a made-for-television movie, a comedic miniseries, two sitcoms, and cameoed twice in the show he executive produces, Roswell. He even found a cameo for his wife on Roswell, while she continues to star in the popular daytime drama, General Hospital. For 2001, Jonathan has several movie projects in the works, including Clockstoppers and Steve Was Here. He is also signed on to star, and possibly direct again, Star Trek 10, due in 2002.