Jamie Farr (born Jameel Joseph Farah, July 1, 1934) is an American television, film, and theatre actor. He is of Lebanese descent. He is known for playing Corporal Klinger (later Sergeant) from Toledo, Ohio, bucking for a Section 8 discharge in the CBS television sitcom M*A*S*H.
Farr was born in Toledo, Ohio, to Lebanese-American parents Jamelia M., a seamstress, and Samuel N. Farah, a grocer. He and his family attended Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Toledo.
Farr's first acting success occurred at age 11, when he won two dollars in a local acting contest. After Woodward High School, where he was one of the standouts among his class, Farr attended the Pasadena Playhouse where a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 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 Toledo mentor, Danny Thomas, he decided to become an actor.
Farr’s first film roles were in 1955 in Blackboard Jungle (credited as Jameel Farah) and as a fruit vendor in Kismet (uncredited). After this, he was drafted into the United States Army, undergoing his basic training with the 6th Infantry Division Fort Ord California, he served for two years, with service in Japan and Korea.
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 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 got a new acting role on 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). In 1964 he appeared in an episode of Hazel as a soon-to-be father, who was an Italian restaurant owner. 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!”).
In October 1972, 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 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 fourth. 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.
His favorite episodes are "Officer of the Day" and "Big Mac".
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. 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 have appeared in all three Cannonball Run films.)
Farr appeared as a panelist on several game shows, including: The $25,000 Pyramid, Super Password, The Gong Show, Body Language, Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour, 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 as a teacher, Mr. Burton, as well as a second-season episode of Emergency!.
Farr endorsed the U.S. Mars bar in commercials during the 1980s and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1985.
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 television.
Since 1984, he has hosted an annual women's professional golf tournament on the LPGA tour, the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I in Sylvania, Ohio. The tournament has raised over $6.5 million for local children's charities.
In 1996–97 Farr went on a national tour with The Odd Couple, playing Oscar Madison, playing opposite his old friend William Christopher in the role of Felix Ungar. The two had appeared in several movies before they were eventually cast together in M*A*S*H.
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 commercial intermissions.
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."
In October 2016, Farr was seen promoting the M*A*S*H television series on the MeTV television network.
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 four hundred 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 many episodes as a Toledo Mud Hens fan.
Farr has been married to Joy Ann Richards since 1963 and has two children, Jonas and Yvonne. He has a grandson named Dorian.
Since the early 1990s, Farr has battled severe rheumatoid arthritis.
In 2003, Farr and his wife wrote a children's story called Hababy's Christmas Eve, which retells the First Christmas from the point of view of the animals.
The Andy Griffith Show
- Played a gypsy named Sylvio but in the credits he's listed as Gracos
Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.
- Season 2, Episode 15 - Gomer Pyle, POW (as a sergeant)
- Season 5, Episode 8 - A Star Is Not Born (as an effects man)
- Appeared in "The Impossible Mission" (September 1968 - Season 4, Episode 1 (at approximately the 8:10 mark in the no-commercials version)) episode of Get Smart as a musician.
- Farr appeared in two episodes, as Theodore in "Panic" (1959) and as Pooch, the ranch hand, in "Two Weeks" (1961), of the ABC western television series, The Rebel starring Nick Adams.
- Appeared in episode 16, "Get me to Mecca on Time" as "Achmed" in season one of I Dream of Jeannie.
- Appeared as the 'Sheik' in Cannonball Run I and II
- Played a restaurant delivery boy in four early episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show (#1.4, #1.5, #1.11, #1.12).
- Made two appearances in the first season of F Troop: an uncredited role as a lackey of Geronimo in 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- Competed in three broadcasts of Battle of the Network Stars, twice having served as his team's captain.
- Guest appearance on That '70s Show on the season 5 episode "The Girl I Love."
- Hosted the unsold game shows pilots Oddball, Double Up, and Surprise, Surprise, and guest hosted Wordplay for a week in Summer 1987
- 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.
- Appeared in Diagnosis Murder episode Drill for Death (#5.15) along with several other actors from the movie and TV versions of M*A*S*H.
- Substituted in 2004 for the ailing Frank Gorshin starring as George Burns in the national tour of the one-man show Say Goodnight, Gracie.
- Appeared in Lend Me a Tenor at the New Theatre, a dinner theater in Overland Park, Kansas, where he has starred in several plays the last several years.
- Farr was cast in The Last Romance at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, Ontario, in February 2013. He previously appeared at Theatre *Aquarius in Tuesdays With Morrie.
- Played a police officer in a 1967 episode of The Flying Nun, "Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters".
- Played himself in The Fall Guy, Season 1, Episode 7 Japanese Connection (16 Dec. 1981).
- Played the role of Snorkel opposite Red Skelton and Buster Crabb on "The Red Skelton Show".