Children of the Corn
featured many creepy children looking to sacrifice adults to a malevolent deity. None of them was as frightening as the kid preacher Isaac, the nasal-voiced leader of his homicidal clan.
was played by John Franklin. John was 23 years old when he appeared in Corn
. He has growth hormone deficiency, which makes him appear younger than his peers. Later, John would don the Cousin Itt costume in the ‘90s Addam’s Family reboot before, seemingly, going quiet.
It turns out that a series of real-life tragedies convinced the actor to leave Hollywood in pursuit of a new career. In this OWN Digital Original, John says that his close friend was murdered when she was 3-months’ pregnant. Then, his agent, who he says was like a “second mom,” died of cancer. Shortly after the two deaths, 9/11 happened. Reflecting on mortality, John realized he wanted to contribute something more.
“I’m going, ‘I don’t want to audition anymore and be a pickle’ or go into an audition like ‘Be a gorilla.’ It just felt so stupid,” John says.
Then, John saw a news special on the people who died on 9/11, including firefighters and police officers. “I seriously looked in the mirror and go, ‘What is my legacy?,’” John says. “Yes, it’s wonderful. Children of the Corn
, Addam’s Family
. I’ve entertained millions through the years, but is that all that I want written on my tombstone or my obituary? I just decided then, I need a break, I need to get away.”
Soon after this shift in perspective, Franklin experienced what he calls “a sign” in the
form of a newspaper article.
“I was reading an article
in the Los Angeles Times
about this group called the Teaching Fellows,” he says. “They were looking for people, mid-career, who wanted to transfer out and take all their life experience and go into the classroom.”
John was accepted into the program, went through a summer of intensive training and was ready to begin his teaching internship. He taught English for three years in his internship before taking a job at a different, newer school that was only a year old, which allowed John to grow in his role as an educator.
“I was able to become the only Shakespeare teacher, I was able to get in as a young teacher and start teaching advanced placement classes, I created the first screenwriting class ever,” he says.
Franklin continued teaching for 14 years, and just recently decided to return to his core passion: writing and acting. He retired from teaching in June, but before he left the classroom, many of Franklin’s students let him know about his impact on their lives.
“It was just amazing, I have all these students who just reached out and talked about how much they loved my class... They went into writing because of my screenwriting class, or my Shakespeare class gave them the confidence to perform,” Franklin says, smiling. “It really touches you. It’s really cool that I do have a different legacy and a lot of those lives were definitely changed.”
John and his writing partner Tim Sulka recently completely a graphic novel called Prime Cuts