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”]


  1. I saw two of Rodd Dana's films "Kill Or Be Killed" and "Kill The Wicked both from 1967. He played Jerry in the first one and Gringo in the second. Also in that film was Maria Silva who recently died along with Massimo Reghi. It says on IMDB that he was born on April 12, 1907, in Rome, Italy, but when I looked at him in the movie he didn't look 60. He plays the role of Lester. My opinion was that Massimo Reghi was born on April 12, 1938, in Rome, Italy, and died on September 16, 1983, in Rome, Italy. That would have made him 29 at the time of the film, the appropriate age to play Lester. This means he would have died young at only 45 in 1983. I wish IMDB would correct this error. What do you think? Please let me know.

  2. I accidentally spelled Massimo Righi's last name. My bad. And I also went onto IMDB just now. It says he was born on April 14, 1907, in Rome, Italy. It also says he died on December 8, 1983. At least that's what I thought it said. I could be wrong I don't know but either way I still say that Massimo Righi was born either on April 12, 1938 or April 14, 1938 in Rome, Italy and died on September 16, 1983 in Rome, Italy. He was at least 45 when he died and the cause of death was probably a heart attack. I'll have to go back to IMDB to see if they got the date of death right. I'll let you know what it really says once I return.

  3. I just went back to IMDB and it seems I'm wrong about the date of death for Italian actor Massimo Righi. I said that the date was December 8, 1983 a while ago but when I went back to IMDB it said that he had died on September 17, 1983 in Rome, Italy. So that means that Massimo Righi was born on April 14, 1938, in Rome, Italy and died either on September 16, 1983, in Rome, Italy, or on September 17, 1983, in Rome, Italy. He would have been 45 years old at the time of his death and it was probably caused by a heart attack. He appeared in two Spaghetti Westerns that I know of and I saw both. He appeared in "Killer Caliber .32" with Peter Lee Lawrence as Judd and "Kill The Wicked" with Rodd Dana as Lester both from 1967. Rodd Dana played Randall in that movie whose name is also Gringo depending on which version of the film you see. In the English, German, and Spanish versions of the film he is called Randall but in the Dutch, Italian, and French versions he is called Gringo. Massimo Righi was also in the film with his sister-in-law Maria Silva, who recently died this year. She played Shelley in the film. Massimo Righi was married to her sister, Nancy Silva, from 1963 until their divorce in 1979. Nancy Silva was born on May 7, 1938, in Palencia, Spain as Nancy Pilar Silva Rodriguez and her sister was Maria Silva. Massimo played Lester in the film. Larry Ward was also in the film as Benny Hudson or Jerry. All three films were great but the best one out of all three HAS to be "Kill The Wicked". Can't go wrong with a Western film like that. Especially if it involves bandits hiding out in a ghost town. I might have to see that one again. I love Spaghetti Westerns and that one is one I'll never forget. I love Westerns in general and I hope they make more of them. Because let's face it. Sometimes the world needs a cowboy to save the day. Long live the Westerns. And long live the Spaghetti Westerns too.