Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

John Franklin in 'Highway to Heaven'
Actor & Santa Clarita Valley Resident

Click image to enlarge



John Franklin/John Salapatek (right) with star Michael Landon in "Highway to Heaven" Season 2, Episode 13: "Alone" (Jan. 8, 1986).

NBC-TV publicity photo, from an unidentified newspaper archive, advertising the June 25, 1986, rerun of the episode (July 2 in some markets).

Cutline on back reads:

JONATHAN HELPS RETARDED TEEN-AGER — Jonathan (Michael Landon, left) befriends Arnie (John Franklin), a retarded teen-ager living in a vacant lot with his cat, in "Alone," on NBC-TV's "Highway to Heaven" Wednesday, June 25 [7/2] (8-9 p.m. NYT). (repeat)

Actor-teacher John Paul Salapatek (stage name John Franklin), a Castaic resident and SCV high school teacher, is best known for his portrayal of Isaac in the 1984 movie version of Stephen King's "Children of the Corn" and the squeaky Cousin Itt (aka Cousin It) in both of the "Addams Family" movies in 1991 and 1993. He retired from acting in 2003 and became a teacher of Shakespeare, English and screenwriting at Golden Valley High School in Santa Clarita, where his students call him "Mr. Sal."

Salapatek was born June 16, 1959, in the city of Blue Island, south of Chicago. He graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor of fine arts in theater (1983) and earned a master of fine arts in screenwriting from National University. Of Polish descent, he speaks fluent German and French.

Salapatek was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) as a child, which is responsible for his short 5-foot stature and youthful appearance. Specializing in playing characters younger than his real age, he was 24 when made his screen debut as the much younger Isaac, leader of a dangerous religious cult of children who obey a demonic entity, "He Who Walks Behind the Rows," which compels them to kill everyone in town over age 18.

His next role took him in the opposite direction when he made a guest appearance as a developmentally disabled teenager in a 1986 episode of the NBC-TV series "Highway to Heaven" starring Michael Landon. He perfected the silly noises of Cousin Itt for "The Addams Family," which was partially shot in the Santa Clarita Valley, and he reprised the role in the sequel.

As a screenwriter, Salapatek, or rather Franklin, wrote himself into the sixth installment of the "Corn" series with a sequel that went direct to video in 1999: "Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return."

John Franklin retired from the screen in 2003 to become Mr. Sal and to pursue creative writing.

LW2358a: 9600 dpi jpeg from original print
(John Salapatek)


Children of the Corn 1984


Highway to Heaven 1986


SCVTV 2010 Video

RETURN TO TOP ]   RETURN TO MAIN INDEX ]   PHOTO CREDITS ]   BIBLIOGRAPHY ]   BOOKS FOR SALE ] is another service of SCVTV, a 501c3 Nonprofit • Site contents ©SCVTV
The site owner makes no assertions as to ownership of any original copyrights to digitized images. However, these images are intended for Personal or Research use only. Any other kind of use, including but not limited to commercial or scholarly publication in any medium or format, public exhibition, or use online or in a web site, may be subject to additional restrictions including but not limited to the copyrights held by parties other than the site owner. USERS ARE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE for determining the existence of such rights and for obtaining any permissions and/or paying associated fees necessary for the proposed use.