Profile: Franklyn Seales (1952-1990)

Franklyn Seales was an American film, television and stage actor. He was known for his portrayals of business manager Dexter Stuffins in the 1980s sitcom Silver Spoons, and real-life convicted cop killer Jimmy Lee (Youngblood) Smith in the 1979 film The Onion Field.

Early life and education

Franklyn Vincent Ellison Seales was born on July 15, 1952, the fifth eldest of eight siblings, in Calliaqua to Francis Seales, a merchant seaman and government employee, and Olive Seales (née Allen), a homemaker. Seales was of English, Scottish, African, Portuguese and Native Caribbean descent. He and his family left the West Indies in 1960 and settled in New York City. He attended Lincoln High School in Brooklyn.

Seales originally intended to study at the Pratt Institute to pursue a career in art. However, in the early 1970s, Seales agreed to accompany an aspiring-actress friend to an audition at the Juilliard School. As Seales helped his friend run through the famous Romeo and Juliet balcony scene, actor/producer John Houseman (then director and founder of the school’s drama division) began to notice him. Houseman offered Seales a four-year Juilliard scholarship. Seales was the first and only known graduate of Juilliard to hail from St. Vincent. He studied at Houseman’s Acting Company.

Personal life and death

According to Walter Hill, the director of Southern Comfort, Seales was openly gay.

According to his sister, Deborah Richardson, Seales started noticing symptoms of AIDS related illness (in particular a persistent cough) on the set of Amen and had been unable to work regularly for the last couple years of his life.

On May 14, 1990, Seales died at the age of 37 from complications of AIDS at his family’s home in Brooklyn. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Caribbean Sea.

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