Kellie Allen Franciscus was born on December 4, 1963, to actor Jim Franciscus and his wife, Kathleen Wellman. She was the second of four children, with an older sister Jamie born in 1961, and two younger sisters, Korie and Jolie, born in 1971 and 1973, respectively. Her parents had a memorable courtship, with Jim asking Kathleen to marry him after he tossed her into the pool still wearing a silk dress and high heels. Her grandparents, Lorraine and John Franciscus were prominent members of the St. Louis community. Lorraine was the daughter of James Grover, a banker with the St. Louis Union Trust Company. Her grandfather, John Franciscus, was a pilot during WWII who lost his life in a plane crash.
Her father, James Franciscus
James Grover Franciscus was born on January 31, 1934, in Clayton, Missouri. Growing up, his family gave him the nickname “Goey”, due to his middle name Grover which his brother couldn’t pronounce. At the age of three, he had a near-fatal accident when he fell onto a lightning rod. When World War II broke out in 1941, James’ father John joined the English command and the family moved to Canada. Tragically, his father died when his plane crashed while ferrying them across the sea to England. After his death, the family moved back to St. Louis, and later to New York City when Lorraine married Francis La Farge, a stockbroker.
At age 12, Jim experienced his first foray into acting while attending The Fessenden School in West Newton Massachusetts, playing a girl’s role in an all-boys school play. At Taft Prep School, Jim was equally active in sports, music, and dramatics, earning him the title of class president and leading him to star in “Billy Bud” and “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” After graduating from Yale with a BA in English, Jim co-starred in the TV series “Naked City” while visiting friends in California, where he met Kathleen Wellman. Jim adjusted to New York and worked up from an apprentice to stage manager at the Cape Playhouse in Massachusetts each summer.
In 1958, Jim was featured in the movie The Mugger (1958), playing Eddie Baxter. It was also at this time that he re-introduced himself to Kathleen Wellman, and they were married two weeks later. Jim went on to portray Rick Leyton in the 1960 movie I Passed for White and co-starred in The Outsider in 1961. Two years later (1963) he starred in Miracle of the White Stallions and was considered seriously for the part of Dr Kildare. Ultimately, Jim starred in his own television series, Mr Novak (1963–1965), playing an English teacher at Jefferson HS.
Jim Franciscus appeared in classics like “Youngblood Hawke” (1964), “Night Slaves” (1970), “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970) and “Cat O’ Nine Tails” (1971). He was also an executive producer of many projects, such as “Heidi” (1968) and “Longstreet” (1971). Off-screen, he was a devoted family man and a passionate advocate for multiple charities.
In 1985, James Grover Franciscus made his final film, “Secret Weapons,” taking on the role of Colonel Victor Khudenko, a Russian KGB agent. However, soon after, Franciscus’s health began to worsen due to emphysema. The actor devoted much of his time to writing screenplays that he hoped one day would be produced. Before his death in 1991, Franciscus was able to witness the release of his last movie, “29th Street.” He passed away on July 8 of that same year.