|Name||Jameel Joseph Farah|
|Born||July 1, 1934|
|Occupation||Game Show Host/Panelist, TV Personality, Actor|
|Spouse||Joy Ann Richards (1963-present)|
Jameel Joseph Farah (or Jamie Farr) was an actor, game show host & panelist. Farr is mostly best known for playing a cross-dressing corporal (later sergeant) from Toledo, Ohio (which in turn where Farr was born) bucking for a Section 8 discharge in the role of Maxwell Q. Klinger on the hit tv series M*A*S*H based on the 1970s movie of the same name for which in turn was based on the novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors by Richard Hooker from 1968.
Farr was born in Toledo, Ohio, 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 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 (who had a lot in common with him), he decided to become an actor.
Farr’s first film roles were in 1955 in Blackboard Jungle (billed as Jameel Farah) and as a fruit vendor in Kismet (uncredited). After this, he joined the United States Army 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 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 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!”).
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. 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 appear 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, The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour, Wordplay, The $1.98 Beauty Show, The Magnificent Marble Machine, Tattletales and others.
In 1986, Farr hosted the unsold pilot called Oddball for NBC where it was an attempt to modernize the short-lived 1964 ABC daytime game show Get the Message.
Farr was a narrator for the game show documentary special called The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blank for GSN (Game Show Network) in 2006.
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 bar in commercials during the 1980s and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1985.
He was a regular judge, with 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 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."
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 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.
Goodson-Todman Shows Appeared
Goodson-Todman Show Hosted
- Oddball (1986 pilot)
Goodson-Todman Special Narrated
- The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blank (2006 Special)