He often worked with Burt Reynolds and directed him in episodes of the sitcom “Evening Shade”.
James Hampton, who played the clumsy bugle Hannibal Dobbs onTroop F, the prison guard in the originalThe longest yardand the hairy father of Michael J. Fox inTeen wolf, is dead. He was 84 years old.
Hampton died at his Fort Worth, Texas home on Wednesday of complications from Parkinson’s disease, a family spokesperson said.
Hampton was great friends with Burt Reynolds, the two first met during a 1963 episodeGunsmoke and they were castmates inThe man who loved dancing cats(1973),The longest yard(1974),WW and the Dixie Dancekings(1975) andJostle(1975). Additionally, he wrote and / or directed several episodes of Reynolds’ CBS sitcom,Evening shadow.
The likeable actor also portrayed handyman LeRoy B. Simpson onThe Doris Day Showand was a lopsided villain in the last episode ofMannix, and he appeared inThe Outer Space Cat(1978),China syndrome(1979) andSlingshot blade(1996).
Born in Oklahoma City on July 9, 1936, Hampton grew up in Dallas, where his parents, Ivan and Edna, owned a dry cleaning store. He attended the University of North Texas as a major in the theater arts and was drafted into the United States Army, where his stint onTroop F he was in the cavalry at Fort Knox before seeing service overseas.
After the service, he studied acting with Baruch Lumet, father of Sidney Lumet, at the Knox Street Theater in Dallas and appeared in plays at the Casa Manana Theater in Fort Worth before moving to New York City to pursue his career.
He auditioned to star in a short film,The inhabitants of the cliff(1962), and got the job when he offered to build the sets as well. The film was surprisingly nominated for an Oscar, giving Hampton his first trip to Los Angeles, where he was signed by prominent agent Walter Kohner.
Kohner got a gig in Hampton during a May 1963 episode ofGunsmoke, where he played Jeb Willis, a naive young man accused of stealing a horse. Reynolds returned as the Quint Asper blacksmith on CBS Western, and the two became friends. “I think he liked my sense of humor,” said Hampton.
Hampton took acting lessons from Leonard Nimoy, then landed the role of Pvt. Hannibal Dobbs onTroop F. His character could play “Yankee Doodle” and “Dixie” on the bugle, although “Reveille” was a different story. The ABC comedy aired for only two seasons (65 episodes from September 1965 to April 1967) but lived for decades in syndication.
ForThe longest yard, Hampton had the opportunity to play the lively Unger, he Noted in a 2011 interview.
“With all due respect, sir, I don’t want to play this role,” Hampton told director Robert Aldrich. He said, ‘Really? What would you like to play? “I said, ‘I want to play Caretaker.’ He said, ‘The keeper only has five lines. I said,‘Nowit only has five lines. ‘”
His dialogue intensified as he and Reynolds improvised scenes and Aldrich “saw that there was a chemistry between me and Burt and set us free.” (Chris Rock played Caretaker in the Adam Sandler remake in 2005).
Despite being there for several years, Hampton was somehow eligible to receive a Golden Globe for Most Promising Male Newcomer in 1975.
Hampton read for the role of the basketball coach inTeen wolf(1985) before he could play the fatherly werewolf Harold Howard. He would return for the 1987 sequel and a CBS animated series.
He also played Aaron Ironwood, a childhood friend of the struggling James Garner character, in a 1975 episode ofThe Rockford Filesand performed sketches on Mary Tyler Moore’s pop-up 1978 variety show.
His summary also included other shows likeDr Kildare,The FBI,Who is the boss?,Full houseandDays of our lives, movies such asBlue soldier(1970), the cavalry ensembleHawmps!(1976),Condorman(nineteen eighty one),Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach(1988) andTurn up the sound(1990) and advertisements for the American Egg Board (“the incredible edible egg“).
Hampton also directed episodes ofFlaming hearts,Boston Common,Grace under fireandSister, sister.
His autobiography, What? And give up show business?, was released in February.
Survivors include his second wife, actress Mary Deese, whom he married in 2002, children James, Andrea and Frank; Instead of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease Research.
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