Francis played Algernon “Algy” Wilkes alongside Leo Gorcey and Bobby Jordan in the 1940 films Boys of the City, That Gang of Mine and Pride of the Bowery and 1941’s Flying Wild. He later guested on a few TV shows and wrote for series including Justice, Appointment with Adventure, The Loretta Young Show, The George Sanders Mystery Theater and Matinee Theatre.
A former SAG vice president and recording secretary, Francis also was a founding board member of the SAG Foundation, on which he served for 33 years.
“It was a privilege to know someone who had lived life so fully long before I met him and to work with him over these many years as he continued supporting his fellow performers,” said SAG-AFTRA Foundation treasurer and fellow founding board member Maureen Donnelly. “Gene truly never stopped.”
A member of the SAG national and New York boards of directors for more than two decades, he also served as treasurer of the Foundation’s board, and worked on its finance committee.
At the Foundation, he was a longtime advocate of children’s literacy, growth in performers’ programming and scholarships, and the establishment of its Robin Williams Center in the heart of New York’s theater district, attending its opening in 2016.
He continued as an active member of the Foundation’s board and finance committee in his role as emeritus board member, attending board and committee meetings by Skype and phone when he couldn’t attend in person. A World War II vet, he also served as member of the Actors’ Equity council.
“He loved his fellow actors and dedicated many, many hours of his life to performing artists everywhere,” said son Stephen Francis.
Francis’ family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation to support his commitment to the lives and livelihoods of performing artists.