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The Longest Yard actor James Hampton dies at age 84 following complications from Parkinson’s disease

Actor James Hampton has died at the age of 84 following complications from Parkinson’s disease.

The US Army veteran and screen talent passed away at his home in Fort Worth, Texas, on Wednesday, according to a family source who confirmed news of his death to The Hollywood Reporter.

Hampton was best known for his role as the Caretaker in the original 1974 version of The Longest Yard starring Burt Reynolds, the bumbling bugler Hannibal Dobbs on the 60s military sitcom F Troop, and the father in the 1985 Michael J. Fox favorite Teen Wolf.

RIP: Veteran actor James Hampton has died at the age of 84 after complications from Parkinson’s disease. He’s seen in 2012 above

Born in Oklahoma City in 1936, Hampton grew up in the Dallas, Texas area and went on to study theater during his time at University of North Texas.

Before beginning his acting career he was drafted into the U.S. Army. During his time as a soldier Hampton was stationed in Germany and won awards for performing with the USO.

Following his service he returned to his passion for acting, studying with Baruch Lumet, father of Sidney Lumet, at the Knox Street Theater in Dallas before taking the leap to New York.

After getting cast in the Academy Award-nominated short The Cliffdwellers (1962) Hampton appeared in a 1963 episode of Gunsmoke opposite Burt Reynolds, who would go on to be his close friend and regular castmate.

The pair worked together on The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973), The Longest Yard (1974), W.W. And The Dixie Dancekings (1975) and Hustle (1975) throughout the years and Hampton wrote/directed several episodes of Reynolds’ CBS sitcom Evening Shade.

Go long: Hampton was well-known for his role in the 1974 prison/sports comedy The Longest Yard, where he would work with close friend Burt Reynolds

Go long: Hampton was well-known for his role in the 1974 prison/sports comedy The Longest Yard, where he would work with close friend Burt Reynolds 

Vet: Before beginning his acting career he was drafted into the U.S. Army. During his time as a soldier Hampton was stationed in Germany and won awards for performing with the USO

Vet: Before beginning his acting career he was drafted into the U.S. Army. During his time as a soldier Hampton was stationed in Germany and won awards for performing with the USO

Buddies: 'I think he liked my sense of humor,' Hampton once said of his friendship with the Boogie Nights actor, together in The Longest Yard above

Buddies: ‘I think he liked my sense of humor,’ Hampton once said of his friendship with the Boogie Nights actor, together in The Longest Yard above

‘I think he liked my sense of humor,’ Hampton once said of his friendship with the Boogie Nights actor.

Gunsmoke was followed by acting classes with Leonard Nimoy before Hampton scored the role of Private Hannibal Dobbs on two seasons of F Troop, a choice part given his days in the service.

In 1974 Hampton got to work with director Robert Aldrich on prison/sports comedy The Longest Yard.

James was originally cast to play the snitching inmate Unger, but convinced Aldrich he’d be better as the clever James ‘Caretaker’ Farrell.

Recalling a conversation with Aldrich in a 2011 interview, he said he told the filmmaker: ‘”With all due respect, sir, I don’t want to play that part.”

A High note: The lifelong Texan got back to his soldier roots when he played bugler Private Hannibal Dobbs on two seasons of F Troop

A High note: The lifelong Texan got back to his soldier roots when he played bugler Private Hannibal Dobbs on two seasons of F Troop

Honored: He earned a best rising star Oscar nomination for The Longest Yard, despite the fact he'd already spent over a decade in showbusiness

Honored: He earned a best rising star Oscar nomination for The Longest Yard, despite the fact he’d already spent over a decade in showbusiness

‘He said, “Really? What is it you’d like to play?” I said, “I want to play Caretaker.” He said, “Caretaker only has five lines.” I said, “Now he only has five lines.”‘ 

The role evolved when Hampton and Reynolds improvised scenes together, letting Aldrich see ‘there was a chemistry between me and Burt’ and ‘turned [them] loose.”‘

Hampton would earn a Golden Globe nod for the now defunct New Star Of The Year honor in 1975, despite his career starting over a decade earlier. (The last New Star award was given to Ben Kingsley in 1983.)

Another one of Hampton’s iconic roles is were-dad Harold Howard in 1985’s Teen Wolf, a part he would reprise in the 1987 sequel and voice in an animated CBS series.

Further credits include The Rockford Files (1975), sketches on Mary Tyler Moore’s short-lived 1978 variety show, and series like Dr. Kildare, The F.B.I., Who’s The Boss?, Full House, Love, American Style, and Days Of Our Lives.

What a howl: Another one of Hampton's iconic roles is were-dad Harold Howard in 1985's Teen Wolf, a part he would reprise in the 1987 sequel and voice in an animated CBS series

What a howl: Another one of Hampton’s iconic roles is were-dad Harold Howard in 1985’s Teen Wolf, a part he would reprise in the 1987 sequel and voice in an animated CBS series

The write stuff! Hampton published his autobiography What? And Give Up Show Business? in February

The write stuff! Hampton published his autobiography What? And Give Up Show Business? in February

His film roles ranged from Soldier Blue (1970), to Hawmps! (1976), Condorman (1981), Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach (1988) and Pump Up the Volume (1990) as well as the iconic ‘incredible, edible egg’ commercials for the American Egg Board.

Hampton published his autobiography What? And Give Up Show Business? in February.

He is survived by his second wife, actress Mary Deese, whom he married in 2002, as well as children James, Andrea and Frank and his grandchildren. 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research.

Beloved: In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson's Research

Beloved: In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research


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