James Hampton, who starred alongside Burt Reynolds in The Longest Yard and Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf, died Wednesday. He was 84. The Oklahoma City-born actor worked in film and television for decades, with over 90 credits on his resume. He earned a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer for The Longest Yard.
Hampton died at his home in Fort Worth, Texas from complications of Parkinson's disease, a family spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. Hampton was born in Oklahoma City on July 9, 1936, but raised in Dallas, where his parents owned a dry-cleaning store. While studying theater at the University of North Texas, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he picked up experience that would help him while starring as bugler Hannibal Dobbs on F Troop.
After leaving Fort Wroth for New York, Hampton starred in the Oscar-nominated short The Cliff Dwellers. His first trip to Hollywood led to a role in a 1963 episode of Gunsmoke, where he met Reynolds and the two became friends. In 1965, he landed the biggest role of his career at that point as Dobbs on F Troop. Although the military comedy only ran two seasons, it gained fans through syndication.
Hampton continued acting on television, even earning a starring role on The Doris Day Show, but he didn't score a big movie role until The Longest Yard. He starred as Caretaker, even though director Robert Aldrich offered him the part of the snitch Unger. Initially, Caretaker only had five lines, but Hampton's chemistry with Reynolds inspired Aldrich to include more improvised scenes between the two actors.
Another important part for Hampton came up in 1985 when he played Fox's father in Teen Wolf. He reprised the role in the 1987 sequel and the animated CBS series. Hampton's list of credits also includes episodes of Dr. Kildare, The F.B.I., Who's the Boss?, Full House, Love, American Style, and Days of Our Lives, and the movies Soldier Blue, Hawmphs!, Condorman, and the fifth Police Academy movie. He also starred in the American Egg Board's commercials. Hampton also directed episodes of Grace Under Fire, Sister, Sister, and Boston Common.
In February, Hampton's autobiography What? And Five Up Show Business?, was published. Hampton is survived by his second wife, Mary Deese, and children James, Andrea, an Frank. His family asks donations to be made in his honor to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.0comments