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Frank Bennett was the primary antagonist of the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes.
As a young man he caught the eye of young Ruth Jamison, and the two eventually married. It was after their marriage that she became aware of Frank's darker personality. The couple moved to Valdosta, Georgia. Frank was physically abusive towards Ruth. When her friend Idgie went to visit her Ruth was cool and distant, not only fearing retaliation from Frank but also what Idgie would do if she found out Frank was beating her.
Shortly after Ruth became pregnant her mother died. Idgie traveled to see her friend in Georgia and brought along her friend Big George and another man to help move Ruth out of Frank's home. Knowing how brutal Frank was, Ruth decided that she did not want to raise her child with Frank. When Frank pushed Ruth down a flight of stairs one of Idgie's friends had to be restrained from attacking Frank, and Idgie threatened to kill him if he should ever touch her again.
Being in the Ku Klux Klan Frank and his cohorts travelled to Whistle Stop near Birmingham. While his KKK buddies set about burning crosses and attempting to intimidate local residents, Frank went to the Whistle Stop Cafe and tried to leave with Ruth's baby. When drifter Smokey Lonesome tried to stop him from leaving Frank punched him, however Smokey refused to stay down, saying that Frank wasn't going anywhere with Ms. Ruth's baby. Frank attacked Smokey again before the cook Sipsey whacked him in the back of a head with a frying pan, killing him.
Idgie, George, and Sipsey realized even though it was justifiable homicide the Jim Crow era justice system would never excuse Bennett's death at the hands of a black person. They barbecued Frank Bennett's body on the cafe's large outdoor barbecue. Sheriff Curtis Smoote - who was in town investigating Frank's disappearance - unwittingly ate part of Frank's remains and remarked how good the barbecue was. Sipsey told Smoote the secret was in the sauce. Smoote considered Idgie his prime suspect, and made sure to pay a visit to Big George to intimidate him into cooperating.
Over the next few years Smoote tried to find out what happened to Frank. When his truck was found in a nearby river Idgie and Big George were arrested and transported to Georgia. Ruth gave an impassioned defence of her best friend Idgie. When the local pastor Rev. Scroggins came up he said he wanted to swear on his own bible. Agreeing to that the prosecutor let him hold up his book - which was actually a copy of Moby Dick. Scroggins then proceeded to tell the courtroom that at the time Frank disappeared Idgie and Big George were with him at a 3 day revival meeting.
The judge ordered the lawyers to the bench. Once there he told the prosecutor Percy that there was no body, and a preacher whose testimony no one would want to dispute. He went on to say that Frank probably got himself drunk, drove into the river, and was eaten by the wildlife in the river. Declaring that he didn't give a damn, he ruled Frank's death an accident and dismissed all charges against Idgie and Big George.
- In the movie Frank Bennett was played by Nick Searcy.