A visit with actor Jamie Farr, best known for his role as Corporal Max Klinger on the long-running TV series M*A*S*H.
Kansas City , Mo. – Jamie Farr is in town performing the lead role in The New Theatre's production of Don't Dress for Dinner. Up to Date's Steve Kraske talks with Farr about his many years of acting and how he landed his regular spot on the 1970s hit TV show.
Jamie Farr was born Jameel Joseph Farah on July 1, 1934, in Toledo, Ohio, the only son of Samuel, a meat cutter/grocer, and Jamelia, a seamstress.
Farr's acting career began at age 11 when he won $2 in a local talent contest. He graduated from Woodward High with honors and was named most outstanding student, having served as class president for three years. He also wrote and acted in two variety shows, was editor of his school paper, president of the Radio Club, and manager of the football and basketball teams. He became a member of the National Honor Society, and after graduation he moved with his family to Southern California where he attended the Pasadena Playhouse. He won his first film role as Santini in The Blackboard Jungle, then served two years in the army in Korea and Japan. He then proceeded to carve out a TV career by appearing as a regular on The Red Skelton Show and several episodes of the The Danny Kaye Show as well as the Chicago Teddy Bears series.
During the first season of M*A*S*H* Jamie was hired for one day's work as a phony transvestite bucking for a section 8 discharge. Something about the chomped cigar under the veil and hairy legs under the flowing skirt and the hook nose immediately clicked with the producers. Jamie became a full member of the cast of the No.1 show on television, playing Corporal Klinger and having even directed several episodes. The weekly show could boast of an amazing audience of 32 million regular viewers, running for eleven years, and was chosen by TV guide as the best television show of all time. The final two and a half hour episode aired February 28, 1983, drawing more than 125 million viewers, a record that may never be broken.