Saturday, September 17, 2022

Who Are Those Singers & Musicians ~ Rodd Dana


Born Roger Neal Francke in Vernal, Utah on August 8, 1934. He is the son of Dr. Jacob Marion Francke [1877-1963] and Margaret June Neal [1907-1996]. He has a brother Eugene Arthur Francke, twin brothers Ronald [1937-1964] and Robert [1937-2020] and a sister Sandra Francke [1945- ] Roger attended Wasatch Academy and pre-med at UCLA Dana started his career as a runway and photographic model in the late 1950s. After occasionally appearing in minor roles in a number of B-movies, he moved to Italy to pursue an acting career. In the second half of the 1960s he starred in a number of genre films, mainly Eurospy and Spaghetti Western films, often credited as Robert Mark.

Rodd says, “I had always been a singer and now that I was in the "Verdi heartland", I just couldn't resist. After singing around here and there, I met a teacher who thought that, because of my high baritone tessitura, he would take me to his teacher in Germany and make me a heldentenor. These are the guys who can stand on the stage for four hours and reach all the high notes that Wagner wrote and still be heard over the massive orchestration that kills most lyric baritones - and even some tenors. I gained sixty pounds, did a lot of Wagner, a couple of Othellos, and for a time did remarkably well. Then one night, I blew my voice completely out. The following week in Milan, I was diagnosed with a kind of debilitating arthritis that affects the cricoid cartilage in the larynx, and that was the end of this Wagnerian Tenor.

Around that time, I also started scoring the leads in some really bad Italian Westerns and spy films. I got into this end of things through actress Janine Reynaud. I had just dubbed her husband, French actor Michel Lemoine, in an Italian science fiction epic. [Probably Antonio Margheriti's “Wild Wild Planet” or “War of the Planets”, 1965] Janine and I had met at a party, and she insisted I go with her to meet her agent. This led to “Operation White Shark” [1966], which led to further starring roles in Italian and Spanish co-productions. However, this all ended in a heap at the base of a very large pine tree in the mountains outside Madrid, when a stunt with my horse went terribly wrong (on a Western that was never finished). I smashed into said tree, breaking my neck. I was rushed to the nearest pronto soccorso (First Aid station), where I was pronounced dead and left on a gurney for seventeen hours while they waited for the head medico to come up from Madrid (it was Easter Sunday, after all) to make a decision as to what was to be done with the dead American actor. You will have to read Chapter Four of my book to know the rest.

Needless to say, my life was changed forever, and I didn't remain in the role of Italiano-American playboy. As soon as I could get my head back together, I set off to find answers to the myriad questions that the incident had provoked, and my book tells the rest of that story.

Today Rodd lives in retirement with his wife Margaret in Washington, Utah where he spends his time writing books such as 2003’s Conversations with the Devil: Dialogues with the Soul, The Portal in 2016 and Magdala Legacy in 2018 under the pen name Jon Christian Eagle. He is co-owner of Kokopelli Publishing.

DANA, Rodd (aka Rod Dana, Jon Christian Eagle, Robert Mark) (Roger Neal Francke) [8/8/1934, Vernal, Utah, U.S.A. -     ] – model, film, voice actor, writer, author, singer, nephew of musician Edythe Neal Cutright [1909-1996], married to Margaret Francke [1949-    ] (19??-    ).

Massacre at Grande Canyon - 1963 [sings: “The Cow-Boy Song”]

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