Jonathan Frakes is an American actor, director, and producer who was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. He is the son of Doris J. (Yingling) and Dr. James R. Frakes, a professor. His parents moved with Jonathan and his younger brother Daniel to Bethlehem in eastern Pennsylvania. Frakes is of German, and some English, ancestry.
While growing up Jonathan was introduced to jazz by his father and started playing the trombone when he was in fourth grade. In high school he played in the band and ran track. He graduated from Liberty High in Bethlehem in 1970. The day after he graduated he started classes at Pennsylvania State University, enrolling as a Psychology major, although later switched to Theater Arts and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1974. He then moved to Boston to attain his masters degree from Harvard University by 1976.
At this point he decided to move to New York City and try to make it as an actor. He won roles in the Broadway musical Shenandoah, and on the soap opera The Doctors (1969) as Vietnam veteran "Tom Carroll" from 1977 to 1978. At his agent's urging Jonathan moved to Los Angeles in late 1978 to try his hand at television guest appearances. He guest-starred on several of the big prime-time shows of the time, including Charlie's Angels (1976), Fantasy Island (1977), Barnaby Jones (1973), Quincy M.E. (1976), Highway to Heaven (1984), The Waltons (1971), and The Dukes of Hazzard (1979). During the 1980s Jonathan landed a starring role in a prime-time soap opera, Bare Essence (1983), which had spun off a successful miniseries of the same name.
In 1996 it was announced that he was to be the director of the next Star Trek film, Star Trek: First Contact (1996). He received critical praise for his work on the film and it became the highest-grossing entry of the franchise to date. He formed a production company, Goepp Circle Productions. In 1998 he was asked to direct the ninth Star Trek film, Star Trek: Insurrection (1998).