'Rambo', 'Silence of the Lambs' actor Charles Napier dies at age 75
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — His granite jaw, toothy grin and steely stare were the tools that made Charles Napier one of the most recognizable actors movie and TV audiences never heard of.
From the dim-witted country music star John Belushi flimflammed in "The Blues Brothers" movie to the scheming military intelligence officer who matched wits with Sylvester Stallone in "Rambo: First Blood II," Napier appeared in scores of films and TV shows in a career spanning more than 40 years.
He died Wednesday at age 75 at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, his longtime friend Dennis Wilson told the Bakersfield Californian. The cause of death was not given.
The actor, whose earliest roles included a memorable turn as a hippie wanderer searching for paradise in a classic 1960s "Star Trek" episode, continued to work until shortly before his death. He had a voice role in the animated series "Archer" earlier this year.
In recent years he was a sheriff in an episode of "Monk," a father on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and a security guard on the children's show "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide." His voice was also heard on several episodes of "The Simpsons" as Officer Krackney and other characters.
His favorite role was as the judge in "Philadelphia," the 1993 film that won Tom Hanks a best actor Oscar as an attorney stricken with HIV.
His stock in trade, however, was playing steely eyed tough guys in films like "The Silence of the Lambs" and even comedies like "The Blues Brothers," in which he famously threatened to knock out Belushi's teeth for asking to see his musician's union card.
"I always felt I played myself or some kind of version of myself," Napier told the Bakersfield Californian earlier this year. "If you think about it, old actors probably don't even have a self."
Born in the small town of Mt. Union, Ky., on April 12, 1936, Napier was a high school basketball star before enlisting in the Army in 1954.
After earning a degree in art from Western Kentucky University, he worked at various jobs, including art teacher and basketball coach. (He had minored in physical education.)
It was in graduate school at Western Kentucky in 1964 that he decided to try his hand at theater. He appeared in several local plays, including Shakespeare's "Othello."
He eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he landed a small role on an episode of "Mission Impossible" in 1967.
He eventually began appearing regularly in TV shows, including "Hogan's Heroes," ''The Rockford Files," ''Baretta," ''The A-Team," ''Kojak," ''Murder, She Wrote" and numerous others.
He also made several films for schlock director Russ Meyer, including "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," ''Supervixens" and "Cherry, Harry and Raquel." He said the latter provided him his most embarrassing Hollywood moment, when Meyer had him run toward the cameras wearing nothing but a hat and boots.
Napier settled in the Bakersfield area in the mid-1980s, saying he was captivated by the western Sierra mountain range after getting lost on the way home from filming a TV commercial.
Survivors include sons Whit and Hunter and a daughter, Meghan.
Copyright (2011) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
Let Streaming Genie help you.