During this holiday season I find myself recalling memories of Roger Franklin, our “neighborhood” Santa, who passed away last year. For many years, Roger was always accompanied by his inseparable life partner, Robert Holley. Holley was a gregarious six foot five, white haired, larger than life type who made the perfect Santa Claus. When he passed away in 1988, the torch was passed to Roger. He later became the South Street Santa Claus and subsequently became the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Santa. Not surprisingly, The Daily News rated him the top Santa Claus in the city.
During one of our exam room chats, I was excited to learn that Roger played Officer Krupke in the original Broadway Show of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” – one of the most influential shows I have ever seen. It introduced me to great music beyond Rock n’ Roll. I’ll never forget the afternoon he brought in his acting portfolio, including his Broadway work, proudly and tearfully sharing it with me. It turned out that he was in many of the great Broadway musicals of the 1950’s through the late 1980’s.
Roger brought me some photos of himself as Santa, including one with him being presented an award by President Bill Clinton. In honor of Roger, I am displaying the photos in my office window for the Christmas Season.