Brent David Fraser’s Life, Family, Entertainment and Media Career

Brent David Fraser was Born into two prominent Scottish-American family trees, Highland “Fraser” and “Noble” on his father’s side, with Lowland “Hodge” and “Tate”, with Dutch “Nieukirk/Newkirk” on his mother’s side. His first forays in entertainment and media were as a child Singer and Violinist, performing Classical music and Scottish Highland Country Fiddle music. He also started in boyhood as a Painter and Poet. He first lived in the Pacific Northwest’s Kitsap County towns of Manchester and Port Orchard, near Bremerton, then on to Bellingham, just over the border from Vancouver, affectionately termed, “The Fraser Country” region of British Columbia, Canada.

In his extended family tree, on his Fraser side, his bloodlines run “Blue”, bearing figures such as Sir Simon Fraser, who came to Scotland with “William the Conqueror”, Sir Simon “The Patriot”, who fought for Scottish independence along side “William Wallace” and suffered the same execution one week later, and “Alexander Fraser”, “Chamberlain of Scotland” under “Robert The Bruce”, who also fought with Wallace. Brent’s Great-Great Grandfather Alexander (Alastdare) William Fraser and Sons Robert and Charles were Masons and Railway, Road and Bridge Contractors, who helped build the “Forth Rail Bridge” in Edinburgh, Scotland, the “Brooklyn Bridge” in New York City, the immense “Great Northern Railroad” from America’s East to its West coast, and helped dig the “Panama Canal”. They came to be among the first Washington Timber families, and early settlers of the city of Seattle, developing new directions in business in Paper, Shipping, US Customs and the Maritime Industry. His grandfather, Robert Noble Fraser was a 30 year lead-Man Ship-Wright at the Port of Bremerton.

On his Mother’s side, between the Ancestral names, “Hodge”, in New Jersey/Pennsylvania, “Nieukirk/Newkirk”, in New York State (Historic Newkirk House and Newkirk’s Mills), and “Tate/Tait” in Virginia, and their extended bloodlines, you would find “Mayflower Descendants”, founders of the “Dutch Reformed Lutheran Church” in early Colonial America (“Newkirk” means “New Church”), signers of the “Declaration of Independence”, “Daughters and Sons of the Revolution”, fellow entrepreneurs and neighbors of the Getty family, and America’s longest serving Soldier in its history, “Grand Old Man of the Army” “General Winfield Scott”, aka “Old Fuss and Feathers” (June 13, 1786 – May 29, 1866), who served on active duty as a general longer than any other man in American History. Historians rate him the “ablest American commander of his time”. Over the course of his fifty-year career, Scott commanded forces in the “War of 1812”, the “Mexican-American War”, the “Black Hawk War”, the “Second Seminole War”, and, briefly, the “American Civil War”, conceiving the Union strategy known as the “Anaconda Plan”, that would be used to defeat the Confederacy, the historical event from which we get the exclamation, “Great Scott!”.

Scott served as “Commanding General of the United States Army” for twenty years, longer than any other holder of the office. A “National Hero” after the “Mexican-American War”, he served as “Military Governor of Mexico City”. Such was his stature that, in 1852, the “United States Whig Party” passed over its own incumbent President of the United States, Millard Fillmore, to nominate Scott in the United States presidential election. Scott lost to Democrat Franklin Pierce in the general election, but remained a popular national figure, receiving a brevet promotion in 1856, to the rank of lieutenant general, becoming the first American since George Washington to hold that rank.

For the chief part of his boyhood, his mother, sister Carmen and he, lived in the coastal town of Bellingham, as his mother initially pursued her Bachelor’s Degree at “WWU” and later worked as a Teacher. They also spent time in Edmonds, Ferndale and Louisville, KY, where his mother received her Master’s M.A., but Fraser prefers the Northwestern Washington region of the US above all others, because it is much like Scotland. Repeating the words of his Uncle, Daniel Hodge, he has “a saltwater heart”. He loves the sea and rain, green forests, rivers, mountains, so he has always loved living in the Pacific Northwest. His family roots in Washington State go back to the 1800s, so to live there sometimes feels, to him, more like a genetic leaning than anything else.

His two Great Grandfathers, Robert Gordon Fraser and Mark Noble, were heads of the first Washington settler families to acquire timber culture certificates, with which they cultivated fir trees, popularizing the world’s two most known Christmas trees today; the “Fraser Fir”, and the “Noble Fir”. Robert Gordon Fraser (also Brent’s Father’s name) established the “Seattle Paper Company” and the “Seattle Bagpipe Band”. He had been President of the “Seattle Caledonian Society”, and “St. Andrews Society” on and off throughout his life, and was an active member in the “Order of Scottish Clans”. He was President of the “Seattle Men’s Credit Association” and President of the “Seattle Chamber of Commerce”. He was President of the “Seattle Sales Manager’s Association”.
He was also quite philanthropic, devoted to serving the Seattle community of which he was such a large part. He had worked diligently over years, at providing football uniforms and equipment to form a Seattle Schools’ “Light” Junior Varsity teams, for boys not heavy enough to play on the regular Varsity teams, by going from business to business and house to house, collecting the necessary funds from associates and friends. The result was that when his funeral occurred there was a tremendous mass of Seattle residents paying homage and gratitude. The Funeral Cortege that went from the mortuary to the cemetery was over a mile and a half long. Among great historical figures, his family tree also includes a variety of “colorful” shirt-tale cousins like outlaw Clyde Barrow, of “Bonnie and Clyde” fame, and Canadian Explorer, Simon Fraser.

As a boy, Brent was intellectually active and felt deep societal concerns. Through attending the speaking engagement of Humorist/Activist Dick Gregory, at “WWU”, his mom took him back stage to meet the speaker. It seems Gregory was so impressed by his sincerity, intelligence and conversant nature that he gave him his home phone number, for further discussions. When he called, Mrs. Gregory would answer the phone, and could be heard saying, “Dick, it’s Brent, that boy from Bellingham, again”.

His mother guided their home with appreciation for music, literature, poetry and art. As a young student of watercolor and poetry, he presumed he would grow to be a writer, painter, or performing artist of some kind. In his teens, while attending “Sehome High School”, (his Alma Mater) he was urged by schoolmate, now Actor/Musician/Writer, Billy Burke, to join Sehome’s Choir. He began teaching himself guitar, piano, harmonica and dabbling with other instruments. It was then he began formalized songwriting, putting his poetry to melody. His first songwriting influences were his mom’s preferred “real writers”; Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Jim Croce, Don McLean, Woody Guthrie, and Joni Mitchell. His tastes eventually grew to include everything from generic Pop Radio, to Hard Hock, to Disco, to Glam, to Punk, to New-wave, to Tom Waits. He has immersed himself in all things for which he’s found a passion, soaking them up like a sponge.

He and his Mother moved once more before his High School senior year, back to the town of Edmonds. In classic mid eighties fashion, with Mohawked head and thrift store garb, but without his loving sister, Carmen, to champion him, it seemed the most likely, safe place at his new school, “Woodway High School”, was the Drama Club, where he landed his first stage role in “12 Angry men”, as “Juror #4”, originated on film by Lee J. Cobb. Experience in Theatre led to a developing concept of combining music, theater, poetry and sound design. At about 17 he began working professionally in and around Seattle with local Theatre companies such as “Annex Theatre”, in its original Bainbridge Island, space, second stage of “Bainbridge Performing Arts”, with founding friends, Actor/Director/Writer, Garrett Bennett, David Skubinna, Micha Rice, Bryan Gunnar Cole and Vincent Caster. Fraser debuted professionally as “Williams” in “Trick of the Game”, written by Cole, and “Cafe; Oblivion”, as “Jose” written by Skubinna. Best friend Billy Burke, who had also moved from Bellingham with his family, was also in the night of 3 one acts, in “The Dining Room”, by A.R. Gurney. Fraser next did Bertolt Brecht’s play, “The Exception and the Rule”, in multiple roles, for “New City Theatre”, while also performing his songs at Seattle’s “Pike Place Market” as a “Busker”, which was his “day job”. It was during that time that he and Billy Burke met future Artist/Actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, creating a formidable trio.

Upon the suggestion of Garrett Bennett, he auditioned for and was accepted to “North Carolina School of the Arts”, where Garrett had also studied. There, in the summer quarter, he met his first (later to be) Fiance, Actress Sheryl Lee (Twin Peaks’ “Laura Palmer”). There, when he met then Chicago Actor Doug Spinuzza, Tom Mahoney, Barry Morgan and David Van Pelt, at the beginning of fall quarter, they formed a renegade group of students known for harmless rebellions and antics, that the faculty dubbed a “Cult”, tending to act against the school’s structure, with “boyish” bad behavior. Everyone concerned agreed that it would be best for leaders Fraser and Spinuzza to take their exit. “Thereby hangs a tale”, as they say. He remembers that time and the school, the faculty and the program fondly.

Once back in Seattle, via dear friend, Actress/Director/Producer Amy Maguire, he immediately took up continued study in “The Mark Jenkins Private Actor’s Studio”, and began working again as a professional Actor, with “Annex Theatre”, now moved from Bainbridge Island to Seattle, in “Straight Jacket” with Garrett Bennett, and new additions to the company, NCSA Alumni, Brian T. Finney and John Lawler, as “Dr. Farthead” and then Fiance Sheryl Lee, (whom he had invited to come to live with him in Seattle to pursue her career and reunite in love) playing the “Nurse”. He had also won roles at Seattle’s long standing “Group Theatre”, as “Hector”, the role originated in L.A. by Esai Morales, in “Tamer of Horses”, by William Mastrosimone and directed by Ruben Sierra, with Alvin Sanders and Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, for which he had received exceedingly generous reviews, touted as the next Marlon Brando, or James Dean. He was also in the first non Vet production of “Tracers” for “The Group Theatre”, conceived and directed by John Di Fusco, which brought critical acclaim his acting work, and his original song contributions, in the roles of “Doc” and “Dinky Dau”. Represented by agent Tish Lopez, at “The Actors Group” in Seattle, (who really started him off in Seattle’s professional film work) he landed roles in films originating and shooting in Seattle, like “Street Kid” child abuse drama, “Choices”, by Writer/Producer Maria Gargiulo, and films “He’s No Hero” and “The Can”, again with Fiance Sheryl Lee. He also won roles in L.A. productions shooting in Seattle, most notably “The Chocolate War” as “Emile Janza”, for Director Keith Gordon, with John Glover, Wallace Langham, Bud Cort and Adam Baldwin, which got him noticed in Los Angeles. At age 21, he took to heart the suggestion of Casting Director Cathy Henderson, who had cast him in Seattle filmed “Class Of 1999”, and he moved to Los Angeles with his guitar, a duffel bag of clothes, and $200.00, chauffeured to the airport by Mark Jenkins, who had by then become his Step-Father.

Brent would say today that Cathy Henderson single-handedly started his professional career in L.A., acting as his manager, letting him sleep on her couch, securing “Camden Artists” head agent, Merritt Blake, and lead role auditions for him. Luckily, he soon grabbed up starring roles in independent features like “Jezebel’s Kiss”, with Malcolm McDowell, (also in “Class of 1999”) Meg Foster, and Meredith Baxter and Everett McGill of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” and TV shows such as the Disney Channel’s “Spooner” with Robert Urich, Jane Kaczmarek, Barry Corbin and “The Breafast Club” Actor, Paul Gleason, also, ABC’s “Plymouth” with Cindy Pickett and Perrey Reeves (becoming his next long romance) all of which got him firmly settled as a working Los Angeles Industry resident. He was quickly joined then by friends Jeffrey Dean Morgan, EX-Fiance Sheryl Lee and new love interest (in real life “Soap Opera” style) Billy Burke, causing some now long outlived turmoil, who all came at Brent’s invitation, being happily introduced to the industry network he had established, including Cathy Henderson who then represented Sheryl Lee with Agent Merritt Blake and Eliza Simons-Roberts. They were then able to establish their own footings, to varying degrees, respectively, staying in Brent’s home and staying in L.A., permanently. Brent’s philosophy has always been that to help others, especially those for whom you care deeply, and love, is an indispensable principle on the journey of one’s own achievements. These are some of the numerous hidden dramas, frought with his own horrible scenes, demoralizing behavior, excesses with drink, drug, and his own cultivated dance of pain and anger, throwing consistent shock waves through the lives of those near him, carrying hurt and confusion to all involved. But, thankfully, by time and growth, leading to eventual findings of forgiveness, peace, and resolution. They are the stories not uncommonly heard in popular culture, of which, if we are able to allow forgetting, over time help us remember that we are blessed, and we may find gratitude. They make great dramatic flesh for the “Cinema” of life, and have produced countless Songs, Stories, and Poems of life, love, loss and laughter in Brent’s Artistic time on earth, all for the greater good.

He had also entered quickly the young Hollywood social/dating scene, coupling with talented beauties Carmen Squire, Maya McLaughlin, long term girlfriend Perrey Reeves, of course, and eventually pairing with Alyssa Milano, Alicia Coppola, and second Fiance, Emmy Award winning actress, Roxana Zal. He came to be informally managed by long time friend, Casting Director Eliza Simons, now Eliza Roberts, wife of Eric Roberts, who was immeasurably instrumental in his career and his friends’ as well. Through Eliza, in 1989, he met long time pals, Actors Peter Dobson, Damon Martin, and Actor/Writer/Producer Sasha Jenson, with whom he became neighbors, then roommates over the course of 5 years or so. Originally dubbed the “Dobson House”, and the “Woodrow Wilson” house, interchangeably – for its street address, where Petey, Sash, and Damon lived, it was the legendary party house for all of “Young Hollywood” in the nineties, regularly in attendance were the likes of Balthazar Getty, Traci Lind, Eric Dane, Shon Greenblatt, Rodney Harvey, Emily Lloyd, Lori and Robyn Lively, Jason Schombing, Josh Charles, Ami Dolenz, Adrian Pasdar, Nicole Eggert, Loren Dean, Kane Picoy, Amanda Anka, Jeremy Sisto, Drew Barrymore, Claire Forlani, Perrey Reeves, Lara Flynn Boyle, Roxana Zal, Shannen Doherty, ‘Charlotte Lewis and Joan Severance. It was in this period his that his music career, was handled and/or guided variously by Andy Slater at “HK Management” (now President of “Capitol Records”), Jenny Price, at “Atlantic Records”, Italian music management veteran Pier Forlani, father of close friend Claire Forlani, and “Zoo Records” and VH1 executive Leah Horwitz. As a solo artist, or fronting various band lineups has had formal demo and informal development deals and gratis recording sessions, via Andy Slater, in “Room C” at “A&M Records” (1991) with Warren Zevon and Don Henley’s band, where Henley supervised production and offered to sing back up vocals, while Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt recorded in “Room A” and Jon Bon Jovi recorded in “Room B”. He also did sessions with Warren and Adam Yauch, engineered and drummed by Mike D, at the Beastie Boys’ studio (1991); and via Randy Jackson at “Sony (1992-4); and via Leah Horwitz with Lou Maglia at “Zoo Records” (1995). Through Pier Forlani, he co-wrote European radio hits, “Inside a Flower”, “Tell Me”, and “Sleeping in Your Hand”, with Italian Singer/Pop Star, “Elisa” and Artist/Guitarist/Producer Corrado Rusticci, on her 1997 album “Pipes and Flowers”, for “Universal/Sugar Records” – Italy, and also briefly fronted Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s band.

Among all of this he also beat out Brad Pitt for the young male lead in Zalman King’s “Wild Orchid II”. He produced his 1998 CD, “Albion Moonlight and the Sea of Troubles” with Martin Blasick of “Motion City Records”; a concept album telling a mythical story, using poetry, sound design, imagery and songs, often compared to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”. Songs from which he has placed in TV shows “Fame L.A.” “Party of Five” and the films “Broken Vessels” and “The Smokers” and “Dark Side of Genius” as other songs of his are placed in various Film and TV productions. For the syndicated TV show “Fame L.A., he also had the privilege of performing the songs of top Songwriters such as Mark Cohn, Vonda Shepard, Amy Grant and Tara MacLean. Through his friend, Producer/Engineer, Blake Douglas, he came to work briefly with “The Legendary Jack Douglas”, Blake’s dad, and Aerosmith Guitar Player, Rick Dufay, with the idea of re-mastering “Albion Moonlight and the Sea of Troubles”, with a view to new works.

As well, Fraser wrote and performed for a number of years in band formations “Albion Moonlight” and “Will”, with good friends Artist/Drummer Peter Del Giudice, and Actor/Musician/Producer Damon Martin, as well as the late world-renowned guitar player Derek Frigo, (son of world’s best Jazz Violinist Johnny Frigo), in bands “U4EA” and “Awe”. Frigo was taken by untimely death in 2004. Fraser lived in a rustic Ranch setting on his family’s property, east of San Juan Capistrano, for most of the time between 2002 and 2008, working on and off as a “Hand” and Dump Truck Driver at neighboring horse boarding operation and “Authentic Western Cowboy” resort, “Wilderness Ranch”, continuing his seemingly never ending work on novel “A Highland Heart”, telling the tale of his adventurous and extreme life before, during and after living in Hollywood. He often refers to it as, “the story I just can’t seem to complete”. In 2003 he was engaged for a third time, to Los Angeles Artist and Book Designer, Melanie Random, daughter of Artist Katherine Random and groundbreaking Media Psychiatrist, Dr. David Viscott, who pioneered the industry now led by Dr. Phil McGraw. His last movies while living in Southern California were “Tall As Trees” with Chin Chin Gutierrez and Monsour Delrosario, and “Always, But Not Forever”, with Tanna Frederick and Bryan Callen, in the stage adapted reworking of Henry Jaglom’s film, premiered at the 1985 “Seattle International Film Festival”, while Fraser’s Aunt and Mother worked there as hospitality volunteers. Fraser has now been working as an Actor and Singer/Songwriter for 25 years.

He moved back to Seattle in February 2008 with his girlfriend, Tiffany McKnight, to form “Lawton Wood Media” with Garrett Bennett, Quinn Rudee, of “Echo Rock Pictures”, R. Dante Ponce, and William Beard, and has worked as an Actor most recently in “Shuffle”, written by Aron Michael Thompson and Garrett Bennett, directed by Garrett Bennett, with veteran stage and film Actor Denis Arndt and Writer/Actor/Producer Aron Michael Thompson, and as producer himself in the developing “In Our Blood” trilogy, with writers Garrett and Quinn, courting wish list “dream cast” stars, you might guess, old pals, now “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Watchmen” phenom, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Billy Burke, now Sheriff “Charlie Swan”, Father of “Bella” in Stephenie Meyer’s ongoing “Twilight Saga”.

Fraser is an active member of Scottish Highland Clan patterned “Clan Fraser Association for California, established in 1964 by Cousin, Lawyer/Rancher Robert William “Big Bob” Fraser, of “RP Ranch” and Santa Ana, and Union Carbide Exec. R. James Fraser, of Manchester, under official charter by the late Simon Fraser 17th Lord Lovat, aka “Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser, Chief of Clan Fraser, of Lovat”, and bold WWII “Fraser/Lovat Commandos” Hero, played by Peter Lawford in WWII film “The Longest Day”. Additionally, their Association enjoyed the honorary membership of long time family friend, Actor Charlton Heston and his family, whose mother was a Fraser, after which his son, Writer/Director/Producer, Fraser Clarke Heston is named. Brent is also a Fellow in good standing of “The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland” and a student of Gaelic Language. In light of the length of this telling, it seems to be “complete”… for now.

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