M*A*S*H TV series star Jamie Farr in 2011.
|Birthname||Jameel Joseph Farah|
|Born:||July 1, 1934|
|Birthplace||Toledo, Ohio, U.S.|
|Actor, TV personality|
|Spouse(s):||Joy Ann Richards (1963-present)|
|Related to:||2 children|
|Character(s) played:||Maxwell Q. Klinger|
Early life[edit | edit source]
Farr was born Jameel Joseph Farah in Toledo, Ohio on July 1, 1934 to Lebanese-American parents Jamelia M. (née Abodeely), a seamstress, and Samuel N. Farah, a grocer. He was raised in the Maronite Eastern Catholic Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch religion. Farr's first acting success occurred at age 11 when he won two dollars in a local acting contest. After graduation from Woodward High School in Toledo, where he was one of the standouts among his class, Farr attended the Pasadena Playhouse where an MGM talent scout discovered him, offering him a screen-test for Blackboard Jungle. He won the role of the mentally challenged student, Santini. With the encouragement of his mentor, Danny Thomas (who had a lot in common with him), he decided to become an actor.
Entertainment career[edit | edit source]
Jamie's first film roles were in 1955, in Blackboard Jungle (billed as Jameel Farah) and as a fruit vendor in Kismet (uncredited).
Although Farr was off to a promising start, roles were infrequent for the young actor, and he was cast as a delivery person, a post office clerk, an army surplus store clerk, an airlines reservations agent, and as an employee at a chinchills ranch, all in all not very crediting roles. In 1958, Warner Bros. cast him as an airman in the Andy Griffith military comedy No Time for Sergeants, which also brought the young TV comic Don Knotts to motion pictures. Farr appeared as Thaddaeus in the 1965 film The Greatest Story Ever Told, along with minor roles in Who’s Minding the Mint? and With Six You Get Eggroll, the latter alongside future M*A*S*H co-star William Christopher.
Farr began to carve out his niche in television when, in the late 1950s, he became a regular on The Red Skelton Show before becoming a second banana with Harvey Korman on The Danny Kaye Show. Farr also appeared on The Dick Van Dyke Show and was a regular on the gangster-comedy series The Chicago Teddy Bears (featuring Huntz Hall). Farr also worked in TV commercials, including a memorable spot for Wonder Bread (as a vendor who says, “If it isn’t fresh, I’m outa business!”).
M*A*S*H[edit | edit source]
He was hired for one day's work as “Corporal Klinger” on the M*A*S*H episode, “Chief Surgeon Who?”. His character wore dresses to try to convince the army that he was crazy and he deserved a Section 8 discharge. Comedy writer and playwright Larry Gelbart has said that comedian Lenny Bruce's attempt to be released from military service in World War II by dressing in a WAVES uniform was the original inspiration for the character of Klinger on the sitcom. He was asked back for a dozen episodes in the second season and he became a regular in the third. Eventually, his character gave up wearing women's clothing (after a lecture from Colonel Sherman Potter, explaining how a Section 8 Discharge would adversely affect his life). Like most of the characters on M*A*S*H, Corporal Klinger matured as the years passed. He gradually progressed from being a cross-dressing visual joke, and became a more sensitive and resourceful character.
Jamie's favorite episodes are "Officer of the Day" and "Big Mac".
AfterMASH and other appearances[edit | edit source]
Jamie and M*A*S*H co-stars Harry Morgan and William Christopher spent two years starring in AfterMASH, the sequel that explored how civilian life treated their characters. While working on M*A*S*H, Farr also appeared in Cannonball Run and Cannonball Run II (his appearance in 1989's Speed Zone makes him the only actor to appear in all three Cannonball Run films.) After cancelation of M*A*S*H, he continued to keep in touch with, or to run into, Harry Morgan. Years later, on December 7, 2011, Farr lost his decades-long friend Morgan to pneumonia. Morgan had played Colonel Sherman Potter for nearly a decade, on both M*A*S*H, and its sequel, AfterMASH. Upon Morgan's death, Farr released a statement: "Harry was very special to all of us cast members. Not only was he a wonderful performer that made such a difference … he was a dear friend to every cast member. He was absolutely a pixie, a gremlin as mischievous as all get out. You couldn't be around Harry for very long without wanting to embrace him and I think our Lord will feel the same way." He also said of his mentor about joining the cast, replacing the unhappy McLean Stevenson, who left after 3 seasons of playing Lt. Colonel Henry Blake, "Harry came on as a guest on one of the shows as a crazy general. When McLean Stevenson decided to leave the series, [the show's producers] decided to hire Harry. He brought a different character to the show. Rather than him being one of the boys along with Trapper John, Hawkeye, and Hunnicut, he became more of a father figure to everybody."
Farr appeared as a panelist on several game shows, including: The $25,000 Pyramid, Password Plus and Super Password, The Gong Show, Body Language, Match Game, Hollywood Squares, Wordplay, The $1.98 Beauty Show, The Magnificent Marble Machine, Tattletales and others.
He appeared in several made-for-TV movies, such as Murder Can Hurt You, Return of the Rebels, and For Love or Money; he also guest-starred in Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
Farr endorsed the U.S. Mars candy bar in commercials during the 1980s and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1985.
He was a regular judge, with comedian Arte Johnson and actress/singer Jaye P. Morgan, on The Gong Show.
In the 1990s, Farr (and Nathan Lane) played the role of Nathan Detroit in a Broadway theatre revival of Guys and Dolls. Farr is still active in regional theater and guest-stars occasionally on TV series.
Since 1984, he has hosted an annual women's professional golf tournament on the LPGA tour, the "Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic|Jamie Farr Toledo Classic", presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I in Sylvania, Ohio (a Toledo suburb). The tournament has raised over $6.5 million for local children's charities.
On Memorial Day 2007, Farr hosted a multi-episode presentation of M*A*S*H on the Hallmark Channel. The featured episodes showcased Farr's performances on the show, with Farr providing commentary during the commercial breaks.
Farr, Chuck Woolery, and Bob Eubanks were rotating hosts of the $250,000 Game Show Spectacular at the Las Vegas Hilton until the show ended in April 2008.
On July 17, 2008, Farr and Anita Gillette opened "Flamingo Court," a three-act play at the New World Theaters in New York City.
Farr hosts a daily radio travel feature called "Travelin' Farr."
Personal life and charitable interests[edit | edit source]
Farr's autobiography is titled Just Farr Fun.
After his role in the 1955 film, Blackboard Jungle, he entered the United States Army for two years, serving overseas in Japan and Korea. His service in Korea was after the hostilities had ended. In his M*A*S*H role as Max Klinger, he can be seen wearing his actual issued set of U.S. Army dog tags.
The park where Farr used to hang out when he was younger was renamed "Jamie Farr Park" in his honor on July 5, 1998. About the park, he said, "I wanted to be an actor, a famous actor, and I wanted my hometown of Toledo, Ohio, to be proud of me." Farr spoke to about 400 admirers and was quoted in The New York Post: "Jamie Farr Park is certainly a highlight of my life and career." Further exemplifying Farr's love of Toledo was his frequent mention of Tony Packo's hot dogs, a Toledo staple, on M*A*S*H. He also was shown in two episodes as a Toledo Mud Hens fan.
Since 2000,Farr has frequently donated to the Republican National Committee.
Farr has been married to Joy Ann Richards since 1963 and has two children, Jonas and Yvonne. He is also the grandfather of Dorian. Since the early 1990s, Farr has battled severe rheumatoid arthritis in his hands.
References[edit | edit source]
- Jamie Farr at the Internet Movie Database
- Jamie Farr Biography (1934-) at Filmreference.com accessed 2011-05-17.
- ‘A wonderful life’ - Neosho, MO, by Todd G. Higdon, Neosho (Missouri) Daily News, accessed 2011-05-17.
- My Family, JamieFarr.com page (dead link)
- M*A*S*H: The Martinis & Medicine Collection - Special Features: Disc 1 - "My Favorite MASH"
- Harry Morgan 1915-2011, Actor most remembered as Col. Potter of M*A*S*H, Toledo Blade.com, December 8, 2011.
- R.I.P. $250,000 Game Show Spectacular accessed 2009-01-01.
- Travelin Farr, RadioTime.com, accessed 2009-07-17.
- William Christopher bio at Jamiefarr.com accessed 2011-05-17.
- NEWSMEAT ▷ Jamie Farr's Federal Campaign Contribution Report. Newsmeat.com. Retrieved on 2011-05-17.