Francks notoriously starred in the 1965 Broadway musical Kelly, about a man who claims to have jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge. The show was universally panned and closed on opening night, one of the biggest Broadway failures up to that time.
Francks next took the role of Woody Mahoney in Francis Ford Coppola's 1968 film adaptation of the musical Finian's Rainbow, opposite Fred Astaire and Petula Clark. The film was not a success at the time, but has developed something of a cult following. Francks shared a duet with Clark on the song “Old Devil Moon.”
The Canadian-born performer started his careen appearing in Westerns in the 1950s and developed a career as a singer in Greenwich Village clubs during the early 1960s, also appearing in non-singing tough-guy roles in TV shows including Mission Impossible, Mannix and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. After his two high-profile musical projects, he moved his family to the Red Pheasant Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan, and adopted the name “Iron Buffalo.”
Later in life, he returned to acting, appearing in films including La Femme Nikita, The Listener, I'm Not There and Gangland Undercover.