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

Jamie Farr enjoyed success as an actor years ago, along with all of the fame that came with it. However, his true happiness came with his discovery of his faith and the woman who loved him before he had fame and money.

Before becoming 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.

 

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

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 the sandwich. They would ask if they could do anything in return, and my dad would say, ‘No that’s perfectly all right.’”

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.

Actor Jamie Farr and his wife Joy Ann Richards attended the 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)

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 momenta 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.

The actor felt desperate but turned to God for inspiration, attending Church often to seek an answer. Eventually, one came to him.

A new, major studio would be opening and producing a movie about the life of Jesus titled “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” George Stevens would direct it.

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.”

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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.

The actor did not light any candles or contribute any money to the box at the church on his next visit and felt more lost than ever.

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.

Needless to say, the star felt humbled by this experience.

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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.

The couple was married in 1963. At their church ceremony, surrounded by friends and family, Farr looked up at Jesus’s apostles and found St. Jude.

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

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At first, Farr was often the partner in making 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”.

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Farr was finally able to buy his wife a proper ring and 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.

In a 2011 interview, the star said on life: “I do so enjoy a life that I’d hate to leave it.”

 

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