Jamie Farr looks ‘great’ at 88 and says prayer changed his life

Before he was famous, Jamie Farr grew up in a low-income family that taught him values he would carry for the rest of his life. His happily-married parents ran a grocery store and supported their son however they could.

In a 2022 interview, Farr spoke about his parents and how they taught him his morals, including how they helped the homeless whenever they could in their neighborhood.

His father would often save the ends of cold cuts to bring out to the hungry people in their neighborhood. Farr explained: “In those days, you didn’t call them homeless – they were tramps or hobos – and they would stop in, and my dad would make them sandwich. They would ask if they could do anything in return, and my dad would say, ‘No that’s perfectly all right.’”

Jamie Farr wearing round wire-rimmed glasses, for director Richard Brooks’s film, ‘Blackboard Jungle’. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Farr was born in Toledo and spent much of his youth making jokes in the face of young peers who mocked him for his nose. It was his faith in God that led the boy and eventual young man to pursue acting.

“… I believed God had called me to be an actor, to entertain – even help – people. And I’d worked hard at it,” he said.

Eventually, Farr’s hard work paid off when he was cast in a 1992 production of “Guys and Dolls” after Nathan Lane had to step out. Farr was hired as the other actor’s replacement for the character of Nathan Detroit in the Broadway revival.

Before his Broadway debut, the star had decided to attend acting classes at the Pasadena Playhouse in California. He even received a couple of minor roles in films like “No Time for Sergeants” and “The Blackboard Jungle.”

After his film roles, he was deployed to Japan and Korea. When he returned, he had lost all of his momentum in the acting world, left behind by peers like Clint Eastwood, Dennis Weaver, and Robert Blake. He was disheartened about his future in the world of cinema.

One of his biggest supporters during this period was his fiancee, Joy Richards, who was a bookkeeper at the time. Farr could not yet afford an engagement ring for his future wife, but did give her rides to work.

Actor Jamie Farr and wife Joy Ann Richards attend 10th Anniversary Party for People Magazine on June 14, 1984 at 20th Century Fox Studios in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Farr called his agent immediately: “Meyer, they’re putting on this movie about the Bible. Look, with my great Middle-Eastern face, there’s got to be a part in it for me.”

The star prayed as he waited to hear back from his agent, and was ready when he was told to send over a reel of himself. He prayed again as he awaited the studio’s response, but soon learned he was not wanted for the film.

However, in a complete turn-around, the studio changed its mind and offered Farr a role as Nathaniel Bartholomew in the film. He immediately apologized to St. Jude for not believing, and followed with a joyous call to his fiancee to inform her they could finally begin wedding planning.

His agent called with one more change from the studio, who now wanted Farr to play Apostle Thaddeus. Soon after, the actor learned that Apostle Thaddeus’s full name is Jude Thaddeus–Saint Jude, the Apostle of the Hopeless, and the figure Farr had been directing all of his prayers to.

He had only been a 27-year-old nobody when he originally proposed to his now-wife. However, this new opportunity finally set him on a path of success that allowed the two to get married and remain financially stable.

“I like to think that he was my best man,” said Farr.

At first, Farr was often the partner to make dinner while his wife worked. Eventually, the two had two children. Farr’s true success came with his role as Maxwell Klinger on the beloved series “M*A*S*H”.

Farr was finally able to buy his wife a proper ring and to take care of his family with his most memorable role. The now 88-year-old enjoyed a successful career on television, stage, and film along with his 60-year marriage.

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