Frank Maxwell, Veteran Film, TV and Broadway Actor, Longtime Leader of American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

  August 5, 2004 - Frank Maxwell, veteran motion picture, television and stage actor for more than 60 years, and longtime union activist and past President of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, former First Vice President of Actors' Equity and board member of the Screen Actors Guild, Trustee of the AFTRA Health and Retirement Fund, died yesterday (Wednesday, August 4) at his home in Santa Monica, California at age 87. The cause of death was complications of heart disease.

During his long career in Hollywood, Mr. Maxwell appeared in scores of motion pictures including Lonelyhearts, By Love Possessed, Rage to Live, The Intruder, Madame X; four television series; in a co-starring role as Dan Rooney in the popular daytime TV series General Hospital and scores of other programs.

Born in New York City, Mr. Maxwell made his Broadway debut shortly after graduating from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree. During World War II, he was a B-29 bombardier-navigator with the U.S. Air Force and held the rank of First Lieutenant. After the war, he returned to Broadway where he appeared in such hits as At War With the Army, Death of a Salesman and Stalag 17. He also appeared in the London production of Death of a Salesman.

Throughout his professional life, Mr. Maxwell was an active and committed member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, serving as National President of the 80,000-member union of actors, broadcasters and recording artists for five consecutive terms, from 1984-89. He also served as President of the union's Los Angeles Local for five years, and from 1985 until his death he was a Trustee of the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds and a member of AFTRA's Board of Directors.

In addition to his longtime affiliation with AFTRA (he held membership card #39, issued in 1937), he also served on the National Board of its predecessor organization, Television Authority.

AFTRA National President John Connolly said, "For six decades and more, Frank Maxwell has been a towering beacon of talent, leadership and principle in both his formidable acting career and his unparalleled contribution as a union leader to the welfare of professional performers worldwide.

"Beginning as a dancer at the 1939 World's Fair, on to a stellar career on Broadway and in radio drama, thence to the Golden Age of live TV, feature films, and stardom in daytime and primetime series television, Frank worked every nook and cranny of our wretched and glorious business with verve and nerve."

"Frank fought facism in the belly of a B-29 in WWII, McCarthyite blacklisting at the peril of his television career in the 1950s, and racism on the front lines of the civil rights struggle in the 1960s... He brought dignity, self-respect and a sense of empowerment to the 80,000 members of AFTRA...," Mr. Connolly said.

"Frank Maxwell was a great leader," said AFTRA's National Executive Director Greg Hessinger. "He worked tirelessly to ensure that AFTRA embodied and honored diversity, democracy and decency. He understood the unique creative process that is integral to the lives of performers, while still resisting any notion that they were inherently different from other workers in their struggle to be treated with dignity and fairness. He gave his formidable energy to AFTRA for decades, and all performers, broadcasters and recording artists are the beneficiaries of that sacrifice. His knowledge, his wisdom and his heart will be sorely missed," Mr. Hessinger said.

Mr. Maxwell is survived by a daughter, Chris Maxwell, of Los Angeles.Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 10 at Saint Monica's Cathedral (7th Street and California Avenue, Santa Monica), with burial to follow at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.

Contributions in Mr. Maxwell's memory may be made to the Frank Nelson Sick and Benefit Fund, c/o the AFTRA Los Angeles office.


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Dick Moore, Helaine Feldman: 212-719-9570
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