Began his career as a radio producer and commentator and entered films in 1938 as a screenwriter. In the early 1950s, Frankovich became an independent producer based in Europe. He joined Columbia Pictures' international division in England in 1955 and was involved in the David Lean-Sam Spiegel epics "The Bridge on the River Kwai" (1957) and "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) as well as "Dr. Strangelove" (1964).
After returning to the US as Columbia's vice president in charge of production in 1964, Frankovich was responsible for such films as "Cat Ballou" (1965), "A Man For All Seasons" (1966), "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", "In Cold Blood" (both 1967) and "Oliver!" (1968). In 1968 he resigned to produce his own films, often comedies and frequently starring Goldie Hawn; one notable exception was John Wayne's swan song, "The Shootist" (1976).