Noah Dixon, played by Don Franklin was the only African-American rider on the show. He joined the riders in the second season of the series and proved to be a nice addition. Even though only a few black men were employed by Russell, Majors & Waddell, none of them were actual express riders. Nonetheless, Noah's character was well accepted and it allowed for the riders new ideas and thoughts when it came to the impending Civil War that would eventually separate them.
Noah was the son of a free black man who had a history of helping other slaves escape into freedom. His parents were killed during a raid when he wasn't yet five, and he was able to escape with the help of a woman who would take on the job of raising him.
In one episode in particular that gave a look into Noah's past, the woman found Noah to convince him to travel with her with a wagon train to the west coast to leave on a ship to return to Africa. When it is discovered that the woman has quite a bit of money that she is using to finance the trip, she is killed for it. Noah was meant to leave on the boat, but he stays and is hired as a rider for the Pony Express.
Noah is accepted by all of the riders, but he seems to have the most problems with the Kid mainly because of Kid's background and being Southern. But they soon resolve their problems and become friends. When Jesse comes along, they become good friends and stick together. But in the end, that friendship hits some trouble as Jesse's arrogance and stupidity about the war gets between them.
Noah had a lot to prove in the beginning because he is so different than the other riders. The other riders each had to face a certain discrimination for being who they were, but Noah faced a different one altogether. It was a very difficult era for the black man, to say the least. Many of the townspeople were unaccepting of him. They even tried to pin a couple of murders on him because he was black, but in the end justice came through, even though it still never changed their attitudes. But this never discouraged Noah. It only made him fight harder for his cause. Noah was personally involved in Freedom Trains to help runaway slaves to freedom. In one attempt, Noah is caught and nearly sold into slavery. But with the help of his friends, he is saved.
Noah's prized possession is a silver saddle that belonged to his father. Noah nearly lost the saddle when he was caught by a con-artist, but thanks to Rachel and Lou, they were able to win it back by winning a hand of cards. As you know, the other riders were experts with guns, but Noah didn't necessarily prove himself with a gun. Noah's trademark was his bullwhip. He used it well, leaving many impressed with how he used it.
But all of this couldn't help what would eventually happen. As the war approached and the riders were pulled in separate directions, Noah felt the heat of the war only too strong. He tried to enlist in the Army but was rejected because of his color. When he decided to help them in an ambush planned by the Army he was shot and killed, leaving many to hold Jesse responsible, but no one knew the pain that Jesse felt over this. In the final episode, Noah was buried, and we sadly said good-bye to all of our Young Riders.
Don Franklin, the handsome and talented African-American actor who played rider Noah Dixon is no stranger to television audiences having starred in five television series since the mid-eighties. Okay, so none of these series lasted very long, but the blame can hardly be placed on him. The shows just weren't that good, well, most of them that is.
His first series "Knightwatch" in 1988, was little more that a network's attempt to cash in on the growing popularity of a hot new show called "21 Jump Street". The show was set in New York and was about 'guardian angel'-type civilian street patrols. It lasted less than one season.
In "Nasty Boys" he played a cop. This time though, the network was trying to cash in on the immense popularity of the Janet Jackson tune of the same name and a little show called "Miami Vice". It, too, lasted less than a year. Curiously, Melissa Leo was his co-star in the TV movie that spawned the series, though she was not in the series.
Then came his stint on "The Young Riders" as the freed man Noah Dixon. He wasn't on this show very long either. He joined the show in it's second season and he stayed on the show until his character was killed in the series finale.
He followed this up with a larger, more prominent role in the series "SeaQuest DSV" as Commander Jonathan Ford, the futuristic submarine's Second-In-Command. Here he had the opportunity to show us more of what he could do than some of his other roles had offered him. "SeaQuest" ran for two seasons before the Network Powers That Be 'improved' it into the revamped and atrocious "SeaQuest 2032" which was mercifully canceled part-way through it's first season. Reruns of the "SeaQuest" series can currently be seen on cable's Sci-Fi Channel.
Don Franklin was born on December 14. 1960 and grew up in Chicago. He began his show business career singing in local choirs before joining two dance companies, one focusing on ballet and the other on modern jazz. He concentrated his efforts on musical theatre appearing in such shows as the Chicago production of "A Chorus Line".
Soon he landed a role as a doctor in Sidney Pointier's film Fast Forward in 1984. This was followed by the role he credits with really launching his career. He was cast to play Lisa Bonet's boyfriend on the biggest hit of the time, "The Cosby Show".
Other projects he's appeared in include the theatrical films, Somewhere In Time (1980), Moving (1988), and The Big Picture (1989). He also appeared along side former co-actor Anthony Zerby in the television mini-series "Asteroid" as a dedicated firefighter searching for a missing boy and his grandfather.
Don then starred in his next film called Between The Sheets produced by his "SeaQuest" co-stars, brothers Peter and Micheal DeLuise. After that, Don took another role as a cast member on the TV series "Seven Days".
Since the end of "Seven Days", Don has rarely been seen, only showing up in guest appearances on such shows as "The District" and "Girlfriends". But always keep your eye out. Don has proven to be a talent in all his endeavors, and we anxiously await any new movie or TV series that he sets out to do next.
Don is married and lives in L.A.
For more information on Don Franklin, please visit IMDB.com.