Steven Franken who is probably best known for his portrayal of Chatsworth Osborne Jr. in the Dobie Gillis series has died of cancer in Los Angeles. He was 80.
Franken made his film debut in 1958 in Stage Struck and then portrayed Willie on Playhouse 90, that same year in his television debut. 1959 would see Franken begin a five-year run in Dobie Gillis, as rich kid Chatworth Osborne Jr. His mom Clarice was played by Doris Packer. He was in 32 episodes of Dobie Gillis. He replaced actor Warren Beatty on the show. Beatty’s character Milton Armitage was replaced by Franken’s Osborne character.
He appeared in either a television show or movie each year till 1997, then would not appear on-screen in 2008, 2011 and 2012. Those were only four years, in his 55 year career, in which he didn’t appear on either a television or movie screen at least once.
His last film Reach is in post-production and won’t be seen till 2013.
The list of films and television shows that Franken appeared in is a long one. He appeared in television shows from Perry Mason to Patty Duke Show to Marcus Welby. My favorite movie, that he appeared in was Hardly Working, a Jerry Lewis film that was one of the funniest movies, that I have ever seen, but is difficult to find in circulation.
Dobie Gillis is one of those shows that is seldom seen on any television channel today. It is sad how many television shows have disappeared from television screens today. Franken’s death was one more reminder of how much Dobie Gillis is being missed today.