Franklin served at executive director for the WGA West for two decades before becoming the first national executive director of the DGA in 1978. He oversaw the establishment of formulas for DGA members on pay television and home video.
“Michael was a dedicated leader in the fight against hiring discrimination and it was during his tenure that the Guild’s first diversity committees were formed,” the DGA said.
He was succeeded by Glenn Gumpel in 1987. Franklin was named an honorary life member of the DGA in 1988.
WGA West president David Goodman said in a statement, “Mike Franklin, the longest-serving executive director in the history of the WGAW, represented Hollywood writers during two formative decades, leading us through the period that spanned the end of the Blacklist, the creation of our health and pension funds, the negotiation of residuals in perpetuity for film and television programs and the postwar maturation of film and television as dominant cultural forces.”
“Mike went head to head with studio negotiators, including Lew Wasserman, and won unprecedented gains for writers in the 1960s and 1970s,” Goodman said. “His amiable enthusiasm and dogged negotiating style enriched writers and protected their rights in ways that continue to serve us in today’s contracts.”
Franklin began his career as an attorney for CBS in Los Angeles in 1952, and for the two local CBS stations, KNXT television and KNX radio. He then joined the legal department of Paramount Pictures, where he worked from 1954-58, before becoming the WGA West executive director for 20 years followed by nine years at the DGA.
After retiring from the DGA, he taught the first course in management-labor relations and collective bargaining in the entertainment industry at USC’s then School of Cinema-Television. He also served as an arbitrator and a consultant in the entertainment industry.
Born in Los Angeles, Franklin served with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1942 and 1946, with time in Japan and the Philippines. Franklin graduated from UCLA in 1948 and from USC’s School of Law in 1951. He was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1952.