Jamie Farr is a 89-year-old American film/TV comedian and stage actor who is best known for playing the role of a cross-dressing corporal named Maxwell Q. Klinger in CBS’s M*A*S*H.
Not every actor will get to make the kind of impact that Jamie Farr has pulled off in his over six decades as an actor. The silver-haired and bespectacled genius is at the tail-end of his career now, but we can’t forget his contributions to the industry in a hurry. Farr is a living proof that talent can exist anywhere, you just have to keep an open mind and look hard.
He has interpreted so many roles on TV, movies, and Broadway, but would always be remembered as Corporal Max Klinger in M*A*S*H. The CBS show was voted the favorite TV show of all time and maintained high ratings throughout the years it aired. His other notable works include The Cannonball Run, Scrooged, Sidney Poitier’s Blackboard Jungle, and Broadway’s Guys and Dolls.
The actor cum comedian was born to Jamelia and Samuel Farah, in Toledo, Ohio. Born on the 1st of July 1934 as Jameel Joseph Farah, he came from a humble background. His father was a grocer and his mother a seamstress. Farr is of Lebanese descent. While he easily comes to mind as Max Klinger, there are other things about this Jamie that you probably don’t know. Let’s talk about them.
Jamie Farr at a Glance
Jamie Farr Started Acting at the Age of Eleven
Jamie attended Woodward High School where he started exploring acting. His acting career started at the age of 11 when he went home with a winning prize of two dollars in a local acting contest.
After high school, Jamie Farr was discovered by a scout from MGM while he was attending the Pasadena Playhouse. This discovery led to him being cast in Blackboard Jungle (1955) as a mentally challenged student named Santini. He was also a regular on The Red Skelton Show for two seasons. Farr wasn’t so sure he wanted a full-time career in acting but he was inspired by his mentor and veteran actor, Danny Thomas.
And He Is a Veteran
Not just because he has been a part of the acting industry longer than we can remember; the man served in the US Army. Yeah, Farr’s career was interrupted by a two-year stint in the U.S. Army. He served tours in Korea and Japan in the 60s. His service proved to be handy when he was cast in M*A*S*H.
Interestingly, he wasn’t the only cast of the war sitcom that experienced war; Alan Alda also served in the U.S. Army. There was also Wayne Rogers, a Naval Reserve officer and Mike Farrell who served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
After his discharge, the veteran appeared in many movies albeit in minor, forgettable roles. He was eventually cast in a relatively bigger role as Lt. Gardelli in the Warner Brothers military comedy, No Time for Sergeants. In 1965, he played Thaddaeus in The Greatest Story Ever Told. Farr spent the rest of the ’60s doing a slew of guest roles on TV series like The Donna Reed Show, My Favorite Martian, Who’s Minding the Mint?, The Flying Nun, and Family Affair.
Shortly before M*A*S*H ended in 1983, he appeared as The Sheik on The Cannonball Run (1981), a role he reprised in its sequels: Cannonball Run II, and Cannonball Fever. Jamie Farr is the only cast member to appear in all three installments.
He Was Originally Cast As a Guest In M*A*S*H
M*A*S*H is one of the most popular shows of all time. Based on Richard Hooker’s 1968 novel about his experience of the Korean War, it tells the story of the life of three doctors. The sitcom nurtured a cult-like following over time as fans simply couldn’t get enough of characters like Corporal Maxwell Klinger (Jamie Farr) and Captain Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda).
The directors didn’t plan on making Max Klinger a regular, they initially wanted Farr to play an effeminate gay character for one episode. The role was rewritten to portray a cross-dressing heterosexual man who wanted to get out of the Korean war. But then, Jamie warmed his way into the heart of the audience who so loved his character that the producers decided to keep him around.
From just keeping him around, Jamie Farr who was originally meant to be in one episode wound up being in all 11 seasons, acting in more than 200 episodes. He also appeared in 30 episodes of After MASH, reprising his role from 1983 to 1985.
Farr Has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
From game shows like Body Language and The $25,000 Pyramid to talk shows such as Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and a daily radio travel show, Travelin’ Farr, the actor has done it all. He has built an immense career portfolio.
In 2003, Jamie Farr was seen in an episode of That 70’s Show as himself. He also starred as Adam Johnson in the 2007 movie, A Grandpa for Christmas. In 2018, he joined the cast of the comedy series titled The Cool Kids, playing Dudley.
Farr is a true veteran of the industry and for his efforts, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1985.
What We Know About His Net Worth
The man is worth a fortune. He has come a long way and has been a part of many projects; from commercials to movies, series, and what have you. Nonetheless, it must be emphasized that Jamie Farr’s most active days in the industry was when the paychecks weren’t as robust as they are today. According to various sources, the veteran actor is worth $7.5 million.
Jamie Farr Is Very Public-spirited
Although he gained global acclaim as an actor, the Toledo native has never lost touch with his roots. One of his earnest desires was to earn the pride of his hometown. Amazingly, he has done that over the years, and more.
Since 1984, he has been a part of the LPGA tour as host of the women’s professional golf tournament. The tournament which also bears his name as the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic has been able to raise north of $6.5 million, donated to children’s charities.
The highlight of his life and career was when a park in Toledo was renamed in his honor to The Jamie Farr Park; that was in July 1988. It was where he used to hang out with his friends when he was a child. Also, Farr has frequently donated to the Republican National Committee since 2000.
His Marriage Is Almost as Old As His Career
Jamie Farr’s busy career didn’t stop the famous actor from maintaining a stable marriage and family life. The actor married the love of his life, Joy Ann Richards, on February 16, 1963. Together, they have two children (Jonas and Yvonne) and a grandson named Dorian.
In their fortieth wedding anniversary, they published a children’s book titled Hababy’s Christmas Eve. The book was basically a narration of the first Christmas from the perspective of animals.