YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


MASH Actor Glad to Be Back on Local Stage

Jamie Farr, known for his zany role as Klinger, will play dad to lead John Davidson in 'Will Rogers Follies.'


It's difficult to picture Jamie Farr--the zany, cross-dressing Cpl. Max Klinger of TV's "MASH"--as the father of actor John Davidson, but that's what's in store for those who see "The Will Rogers Follies" this week at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. Farr plays Clem Rogers, father of the cowboy comic and philosopher who's here personified by Davidson.

Farr has a hard time picturing it, too. For one thing, at 62, he's only eight years Davidson's senior and also is of Lebanese descent. "Other than the fact that we both have a lot of hair," the actor noted with a chuckle in a recent interview, "we have nothing in common. He's a good singer, a good dancer and good looking. I don't qualify as any of those."

The two actors have crossed paths before when Davidson was doing a talk show and hosting "Hollywood Squares." Farr also did two tours of duty on "Oklahoma!" as Persian peddler Ali Hakim.

The first time in the 1970s, choreographer Agnes DeMille declared him the best she had ever seen in the role. His second tour with "Oklahoma!" was a few years ago, and featured in the lead role of Curly was . . . John Davidson.

Farr, who was born in Toledo, Ohio, was studying at Pasadena Playhouse when a talent scout from MGM arranged for a screen test that led to a minor role--the retarded student Santini--in the 1955 film, "The Blackboard Jungle." Most of his pre-"MASH" experience, though, was on the Los Angeles stage, in plays including "Mr. Roberts," "Stalag 17" and "The Man With the Golden Arm."

Since "MASH" and its short-lived sequel, "Aftermash," Farr has spent much time on the boards--from dinner theater to Broadway--where he took over the role of Nathan Detroit from Nathan Lane in the recent hit revival of "Guys and Dolls."

Farr said he has been looking forward to the Thousand Oaks engagement, which began Tuesday night, for two reasons. First, because he hasn't been on the stage locally since the mid-1970s, it will be easier for L.A.'s producers and casting directors to see him perform this close by.

Second, Farr has been a local resident for 18 years, living in Bell Canyon, just inside the Ventura County line.

While he said he has no plans for screen or TV appearances in the immediate future, he and William Christopher--Father John Mulcahy in "MASH"--are set to tour in a production of "The Odd Couple" with Farr as slovenly sportswriter Oscar Madison.

"Thank God I've had the foundation of being in the theater," he concluded, "which is where I've been working for the many years since the [MASH] series went off. As Bob Hope says, 'One day you're drinking the wine, the next day, you're crushing the grapes.' At this point in my life, I've been very lucky, and tasted some pretty good wine."

* "The Will Rogers Follies" continues through Sunday at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Performances are 8 p.m. through Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and 7 p.m. Sunday. $32.50-$37.50. Call (213) 480-3232.


Dramatic Loss: William Fisher, founder and artistic director of the Moorpark-based California Shakespeare Company, says he's moving his productions to a north Los Angeles County location, yet to be determined, early next year.

Consistently one of Ventura County's best theater groups, the company will be sorely missed. Two productions remain in the Moorpark site: "Macbeth," which begins next weekend, and "The Taming of the Shrew," opening in November.

* "Macbeth" opens Friday and runs through Oct. 20 at the California Shakespeare Company, 6685 Princeton Ave. in Moorpark's Varsity Park Plaza. 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 3 p.m. Sunday. $12-$15. Reservations recommended. Call 498-3354.

Los Angeles Times Articles