Steve Franken, a veteran character actor whose long career included playing the spoiled young millionaire Chatsworth Osborne Jr. on the popular situation comedy "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" in the early 1960s, has died. He was 80.
Franken died of
In a more than 50-year career that began in New York, Franken appeared in scores of TV shows and several movies, including "The Party," "The Americanization of Emily," "The Missouri Breaks" and the
But for many TV fans, Franken may be best remembered as Chatsworth Osborne Jr. on "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis."
The series, which aired on
Franken joined the series in 1960, replacing the young actor who had played Milton Armitage, the show's original rich kid:
"Warren Beatty did about four or five shows and wanted to go do movies," Hickman told The Times on Thursday. "Once he had done that, he wasn't going to come back and do 'Dobie Gillis.' But because he was gone, we got Steve, and he was wonderful."
As the snobbish Chatsworth, "he wore clothes that were expensive, polo outfits and a polo stick and all that," said Hickman. "He was a great character. He was the only person to call me 'Dobie-do.' Chatsworth Osborne Jr. — what a great name. And, of course, everything was grand and he was so rich. Steve played it very well."
When Hickman appeared at an autograph show with Franken a few years ago, he said, "Steve told me people were still coming up to him on the street asking for his autograph and calling him Chatsworth."
But, Hickman said, Franken did many things in his career and was "a very serious actor."
"He and Peter Sellers worked out most of the improvisations themselves for that," she said. "Blake let them go."
Franken was a versatile actor who studied at the Actors Studio in New York and later did a lot of theater work in Los Angeles, much of it dramatic.
"They wanted him to go to medical school, but he went straight to New York," his wife said. "He was obsessed with the idea of being an actor."
In addition to Jean, his wife of 25 years, Franken is survived by their daughter, Anne; two daughters from a previous marriage that ended in divorce, Emily Franken and Abigail Glass; and two grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m Sept. 22 at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Los Angeles.