A sturdy, handsome player of stage and screen, Frank Converse went from heartthrob to character player, easily shifting from playing dashing policemen to fathers, stalwart men of order and even the occasional ne'er-do-well. He is perhaps best recalled as the lead in the short-lived mystery "Coronet Blue" (CBS, 1967) and as Detective Johnny Corso, the younger member of the team, on "N.Y.P.D." (ABC, 1967-69).
The St. Louis native had been trained at Carnegie Institute of Technology (later Carnegie-Mellon University). He made his Broadway debut in "First One Asleep, Whistle" in 1966 and subsequently spent the next three decades appearing in numerous productions at regional theaters and in NYC. He was in the original cast of John Guare's black comedy "The House of Blue Leaves" (1971) and won praise for his work in "The Seagull" at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton in 1973. He twice appeared opposite Blythe Danner in the 80s, first in "The Philadelphia Story" (1980) and later in "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1988). Converse was also in the George C Scott-directed revival of "Design For Living" opposite Jill Clayburgh.
Once established as a stage actor, Converse joined Claude Akins in playing gypsy truck drivers in "Movin' On" (NBC, 1974-76). He returned to series TV in 1983 when he starred as a lumber company owner with grown children who embarks on a second marriage to Anne Archer, divorced woman with kids of her own in the short-lived NBC drama "The Family Tree". (The series may be recalled, if at all, as having launched the career of James Spader and for including a hearing-impaired young actor in its cast.) Converse returned to NYC to portray the middle-class family patriarch Harry O'Neill on the daytime drama "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1984-85). He tried primetime again as an American marine mammal researcher based in Australia in the short-lived "Dolphin Cove" (CBS, 1989).
Converse has also appeared in TV longforms, beginning with "Dr. Cook's Garden" (ABC, 1971). Among his more memorable roles were Captain Jaenicke, the Air Force officer who must deal with the avowed homosexuality of Leonard Matlovich (Brad Dourif) in "Sergeant Matlovich vs. the U.S. Air Force" (NBC, 1978), baseball great Joe DiMaggio opposite Catherine Hicks' Marilyn Monroe in the heralded biopic "Marilyn: The Untold Story" (ABC, 1980) and Haley in Showtime's 1987 production of "Uncle Tom's Cabin". He was again connected to America's slave past as the master of a young man transported from the 1990s in "Brother Future" for the PBS series "Wonderworks" (1991).
While his feature work has been sporadic, Converse began by playing Wyatt Earp's ambushed brother Virgil in "Hour of the Gun" (1967). He had one of his best roles as the local pastor in Otto Preminger's tale of the new South, "Hurry, Sundown" (also 1967). He was wasted in Gordon Pinsent's self-written vehicle "The Rowdyman" (1973), and followed Richard Boone's Matthew Perry in Japan in "The Bushido Blade" (1982). In 1983, he was a coach with an eye for a tennis champ's mother in "Spring Fever" and, more recently, co-starred in "Primary Motive" (1992).