Frank Rasmussen
Actor, Director, Playwright, Teacher

Frank Rasmussen, BYH Class of 1908

Frank Rasmussen, BYH Class of 1908

Brigham Young High School
Class of 1908

Frank Rasmussen -- teacher, actor, director, playwright -- was a friend and contemporary of such notables as Cary Grant and Gary Cooper. He was born a son of Danish Mormon pioneers on January 21, 1886 in Fillmore, Millard County, Utah.

Frank became an excellent dramatic actor, director and playwright. He appeared in hundreds and perhaps thousands of live performances. Although he was most comfortable on the stage, he also enjoyed roles in several Hollywood movies.

Frank's Danish pioneer parents were Hans Rasmussen and Hansine "Sena" Jacobine Sorenson Rasmussen. The Rasmussen family lived on a farm in Millard County, Utah. More details about Frank's family history can be found later on this page.

While Frank's childhood education revolved around seasonal demands of work on his father's farm, with great determination he earned a diploma at Brigham Young High School in Provo, Utah, at age twenty-one.

A "Normal" or teaching student, he taught school immediately after graduation, and from time to time thereafter. Over the years he taught at the University of Utah, Box Elder High School, Weber College, and Millard High School.

He attended the University of Utah in Salt Lake City where he became serious about a career in the theatre. Rasmussen frequently appeared in the University of Utah's Varsity Plays, working under the direction of legendary drama teacher Maud May Babcock.

Frank's professional career in theater began upon graduation from the University of Utah, when he received an A.B. degree in 1917. He was immediately hired as stage manager and actor at the Social Hall Theater in Salt Lake City. He taught Public Speaking at the University and worked at the Social Hall to 1920.

In 1920 he became a founding member of a touring group called The Moroni Olsen Players. He traveled with the troupe, and left it periodically to accept other theater opportunities.

After his association with The Moroni Olsen Players, Rasmussen worked with the Weber College Little Theater, in Ogden, Utah (1927), and in California, the Major School of Acting at the Figueroa Playhouse (1929), the Pasadena Community Playhouse (1936), and the Hollywood British School of the Theater (1938).

Rasmussen served in a number of capacities for these organizations: as actor, director, dramatic director, and manager.

Frank spent many years touring with such performing groups as the the Swarthmore Chautauqua Association in the U.S., and the Ellison-White Chautauqua Company in Australia and New Zealand.

The Swarthmore Chautauqua Association was a non-profit enterprise backed by private investors, many of whom were Quakers. The Swarthmore Chautauqua movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries provided popular education along with entertainment in the form of concerts, lectures and theatrical performances, touring on a circuit to small towns along the eastern seaboard.

In 1924, at the height of tent chautauqua's popularity, Ellison-White Chautauquas played in 110 communities in Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. In 1918 Ellison-White formed and operated chautauquas in Australia and New Zealand for seven consecutive seasons.

In addition to his career on the national stage with these theatrical production companies, Frank went to Hollywood as early as when the movies were called "Talking Pictures".

After many months of touring with theatrical companies each year in the 1920s and 1930s, Frank developed a tradition of returning home to Fillmore for a working vacation.

In Fillmore he and an enthusiastic group of local actors, known as The Frank Rasmussen Players, would stage one of his current favorite shows, usually in Bartholomew Hall [Bartholomew Hall was built in 1919 and burned in 1926]. Frank always played the starring role. These performances were appreciated, and Frank was delighted to entertain the people he grew up with and loved.

He wrote a play that was often performed and well received: The Ghost's Skull, a mystery romance in 3 acts, which he copyrighted on April 22, 1929.

In addition to his stage career, Frank Rasmussen had the opportunity to appear in three motion pictures: He played a clerk in "The Toast of New York" (1937); next he played the role of Detective Tucker in "They Won't Forget" (1937); and he played Beckstrom, a spy chief, in "The Marines Come Thru" (1938). This film was later reissued with the title, "Fight On, Marines!" and still later as "Here Comes the Marines".

In 1941 Frank Rasmussen was called to a two-year proselyting mission for the LDS Church in North Carolina, and after completing his service, he returned to Fillmore where he retired in 1943.

Here he was prevailed upon by leaders of Millard High School to teach speech and drama. In this way he had a powerful influence on a new generation of students. He also enjoyed working on his farm.

His involvement in theater in his "retirement" was primarily that of working with productions of the LDS Church in Fillmore, where he wrote and directed many plays.

For example, Frank wrote "The Miracle of Christmas" for the Mutual Improvement Association. He wrote a variety of children's plays. He authored a play titled "Up to the Sacred Mountains" -- a dramatized history of the settlement of Millard County.
Mountain ranges in Millard County, Utah Notch Peak, located in Millard County, Utah

He also adapted a novel by Oliver Goldsmith, "The Vicar of Wakefield", for the stage. This play was performed with local acting talent, and was well received.

Frank wrote an autobiography that covers his personal and professional life in theater, as well as biographical notes about his parents. Apparently Frank Rasmussen never married.

Author Derek Spriggs wrote a master's thesis, The Acting and Directing Career of Franklin Rasmussen at Brigham Young University in 1971. It can be found in the University of Utah's Marriott Library. A scrapbook of the career of Frank Rasmussen is held in the same library: University of Utah Library Collection.

Almost blind in his 80s, Frank was working on his farm irrigating an orchard, when he fell. He was rushed to a hospital in Payson, Utah where surgery was performed. He died on August 8, 1975. His interment is at Fillmore, Utah.

The Hans Rasmussen Family of Fillmore, Utah

Hans Rasmussen, pioneer, and the oldest person in Fillmore before his death at the age of 97, died here Monday, December 19, 1932. He was born in Denmark, May 22, 1835.

Hans Rasmussen joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denmark in his early twenties. He left his native land in his 27th year and came by sailing ship across the Atlantic to New York.

From there he traveled by train to Omaha, where he joined the Mormon ox team train, and crossed the plains that weary 1,000 miles, arriving in Fillmore in the summer of 1862.

The spring of 1863, Hans Rasmussen was "called" to drive an ox team back across the plains, then to return by the same trail later that summer. He crossed the plains three times by ox team.

A few years after his arrival in Utah, he married Hannah Sorenson, and later assisted financially in bringing her father and family to Utah from Denmark. Hannah, who bore him two children, died early in her life.

A while after her death, Mr. Rasmussen married her sister, Hansine "Sena" Jacobine Sorenson, who became the mother of eight children.

Hans Rasmussen was known as a thrifty, liberal, and kindly man, being friends to all in the community. He was always faithful in his church duties and grateful that the gospel brought him to America.

He was able to attend church and, in fact, to live by himself until he was past ninety. He was of a very independent disposition, working about his house and lot long after the age when most people would have been under someone's care.

He was survived by three daughters and two sons: Mrs. Joseph Hatton, Mrs. Ella Alexander, Mrs. Florence Walton, William Rasmussen and Frank Rasmussen.

Funeral services were held in the First Ward Chapel, Thursday, Dec. 22, 1932, and interment was in the city cemetery.

The speakers at the services were Grover A. Giles and Peter L. Brunson. Mr. Giles also sang a solo, "I'm A Pilgrim," and other musical numbers were sung by the choir.

Mr. Frank Rasmussen came home as soon as he heard of his father's death, however the two daughters, Mrs. Alexander of Los Angeles and Mrs. Walton of Salt Lake were unable to attend. [from The Millard County Progress, Friday, December 23, 1932]

News articles mentioning Frank Rasmussen
BYH Class of 1908

Franklin Rasmussen Company Scores Triumph
Millard County Progress, April 29, 1921
"Her Husband's Wife" by Albert Ellsworth Thomas, 1908

Frank Rasmussen Players Score Big Triumph Before Crowded House

Millard County Progress, December 9, 1921
"Nothing But the Truth" by James Montgomery, 1916

Frank Rasmussen Company
Millard County Progress, December 23, 1921
"The Gipsy Trail" by Robert Housum, 1917

Frank Rasmussen Company Scores Again
Millard County Progress, April 20, 1923
"Cappy Ricks" by Peter B. Kyne & Edward Rose, 1915
"The public has learned that Frank Rasmussen's name is a guarantee of a good play."

Frank Rasmussen to Produce Comedy
Millard County Progress, May 2, 1924
"Mr. Pim Passes By" by A. A. Milne, 1919

Frank Rasmussen to be Seen in Ripping English Comedy
Millard County Progress, May 29, 1925
"Mr. Pim"

Frank Rasmussen Co. Pleases Crowded House at Fillmore
Millard County Progress, June 5, 1925
"Mr. Pim"

Frank Rasmussen Co. to be Seen in Excellent Melodrama
Millard County Progress, November 27, 1925
"Under Cover" by Roi Cooper Megrue, 1914

Frank Rasmussen Co. Presents "Under Cover"
Millard County Progress, December 4, 1925

Frank Rasmussen Company Presents "Under Cover" to Large Audience
Millard County Progress, December 11, 1925

Frank Rasmussen & Co. to Present "Turn to the Right"
Millard County Progress, May 25, 1926
"Turn to the Right" by Jack E Hazzard & Winchell Smith, 1915. Contemporary review.

Frank Rasmussen Players to be seen in Great American Comedy "Windy"
Millard County Progress, January 7, 1927
"Windy" [unable to find playwright, synopsis, etc.]

Frank Rasmussen Directs Little Theatre at Weber
Ogden Standard Examiner, January 23, 1927 [with photo]
"Under Cover" & 3 others

Park City - The Play "Seventeen"
Deseret News, May 8, 1928
"Seventeen" by Booth Tarkington, 1917

Frank Rasmussen, Author, Actor & Director
Millard County Progress, January 22, 1932 [with photo]
"The Ghost's Skull" or "The Lunatic" by Frank Rasmussen, 1929.
Also mentions "Dancing Mothers"

Large Audience Enjoys Frank Rasmussen's Play
Millard County Progress, February 12, 1932
"The Lunatic"

Hans Rasmussen, Pioneer, Passes to His Rest at Age of 97
(Frank Rasmussen attends his father's funeral)

Millard County Progress, December 23, 1932

My Most Influential Teacher
By Scott Speakman, Fillmore, Utah
Deseret News, Church News April 21, 1979

1922 Chautauqua Program
1922 Chautauqua Program
1937 Movie Poster ~ The Toast of New York
1937 Movie Poster

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