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Jamie Farr

Jamie Farr, September 7, 2007
Born Jameel Joseph Farah
July 1, 1934 (1934-07-01) (age 75)
Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
Occupation Actor, television director
Years active 1955–present

Jamie Farr (born July 1, 1934)[1] is an American television and film actor and popular game show panelist. He is best known for playing the role of cross-dressing Corporal (later Sergeant) Maxwell Klinger in the 1970s and 1980s television sitcom M*A*S*H.

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Early life

Farr was born Jameel Joseph Farah in Toledo, Ohio, to Lebanese American parents Jamelia M. (née Abodeely), a seamstress, and Samuel N. Farah, a grocer.[2][3] He was raised in the Antiochian Orthodox religion.[4] Farr's first acting success occurred at age 11 when he won $2 in a local acting contest. After a stellar high school career at Woodward High School, 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.

Career

Farr'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 took jobs as a delivery person, a post office clerk, an army surplus store clerk, an airlines reservations agent, and as an employee at a chinchilla ranch, all in all not very crediting roles. In 1958 Warner Brothers 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.

Farr began to carve out his niche in television when, in the late 1950s, he became a regular on The Red Skelton Show before graduating to 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 (he's a produce vendor who says, "If it isn't fresh, I'm outa business!"). This spot got plenty of airtime, even as Farr was becoming known by name as a featured player in M*A*S*H.

He was hired for one day's work as "Corporal Klinger" on the M*A*S*H episode "Chief Surgeon Who?" and he played it so well that this day job became an 11-year career. 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. 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.

After the enormously successful comedy finished its 11-year run, Farr and co-stars Harry Morgan and William Christopher spent two years starring in AfterMASH, the sequel that explored how civilian life treated their characters. The show lasted for only two seasons. While working on M*A*S*H, Farr found time to do some work on the silver screen. He appeared in Cannonball Run and Cannonball Run II.

For many years, due to his popularity, Farr appeared as a panelist on many game shows, such as: The $25,000 Pyramid, Super Password, The Gong Show, Body Language, Match Game, Hollywood Squares, Wordplay, The $1.98 Beauty Show, The Magnificent Marble Machine, Tattletales, among many others.

He also appeared in several made-for-TV movies such as Murder Can Hurt You, Return of the Rebels, and For Love or Money as well as in guest-starring in Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

Farr endorsed the U.S. Mars bar in commercials during the 1980s and received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1985.

He was also a regular judge with Laugh-In's Arte Johnson and Jaye P. Morgan on The Gong Show.

In the 1990s, Farr (and Nathan Lane) played the role of Nathan Detroit in a Broadway 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, presented by Kroger in Sylvania, Ohio (a Toledo suburb). The tournament has raised over $6.5 million for local children's charities.

During 2006, Farr toured throughout the East Coast, performing a one-man musical revue called "Mandela," loosely based on the life of Nelson Mandela.

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.[5]

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." [6]

Personal life

Farr is one of three actors from M*A*S*H who have written an autobiography, the others being Alan Alda and Mike Farrell. His 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 tour of Korea was after the hostilities ended.[7] 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 told 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 on M*A*S*H, a Toledo staple. He also was shown in two episodes as a Toledo Mud Hens fan.

Since 2000 Farr has frequently donated to the Republican National Committee.[8]

Farr is married to Joy 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.

Other roles

  • Appeared in a first season episode of I Dream of Jeannie.
  • Three early episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show as a restaurant delivery boy.
  • Two appearances in the first season of F Troop. An uncredited role as a lackey of Geronimo the episode "Our Hero. What's His Name?" and a credited role as Standup Bull, a bumbling Native American stand up comic, in the episode "Too Many Cooks Spoil The Troop."
  • An episode of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. had Farr in a bit part as a special effects man.
  • Episode "Boot" of Emergency! (2nd season) had Farr as a patient who has a curse on him and couldn't move his right arm. Dr. Early was able to remove the curse.
  • Played a gypsy named Gracos in an episode of The Andy Griffith Show titled The Gypsies.
  • Starred in two episodes of The Rifleman, the first time under his own name and the second under his adopted name.
  • Guest appearance on The Love Boat.
  • Guest appearance on That '70s Show on the season 5 episode "The Girl I Love."
  • Attended the Miracle on Ice 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey defeat of the Soviet Union (ABC Sports).
  • In the 1988 movie Scrooged had a cameo as himself, acting in a movie directed by Bill Murray's character.
  • Played himself in the Family Guy episode "Believe It Or Not, Joe's Walking on Air" as a video instructor for leg surgery.

Popular culture references

Satirical singer "Weird Al" Yankovic mentions Farr in his song "Everything You Know Is Wrong" on the album Bad Hair Day.

Independent musician and podcaster George Hrab mentions Farr in his song 'FAR' which is the theme song for the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast 365 Days Of Astronomy. (Videoclip timestamp 2:33 see Youtube)

In 2008, Matador Records issued a double CD of prank phone calls by Earles & Jensen entitled "Just Farr A Laugh." The central phone call in the anthology, "The Yogurt Machine," leads up to a gag about self-help books and refers to Jamie Farr's autobiography.

In the album Family Guy: Live in Vegas, Stewie said that Brian, with the light shining from an angle, looked like Jamie Farr.

References

External links

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Simple English

Jamie Farr (born July 1, 1934) is an American actor of Lebanese descent. He is best known for his role as Corp./later Sgt. Maxwell Q. Klinger on the 1970s TV show, M*A*S*H. His real name is Jameel Joseph Farha and he was born in Toledo, Ohio.

Farr also appeared in movies like The Blackboard Jungle (1955) and The Cannonball Run (1980), he was a regular "celebrity judge" on The Gong Show and has a golf tournament named after him.[1]

References


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