Charles Napier (actor)
Napier in April 2008
April 12, 1936|
Mt. Union, Kentucky, U.S.
|Died||October 5, 2011
Bakersfield, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Bakersfield National Cemetery|
|Alma mater||Western Kentucky University|
|Spouse(s)||Dee Napier (?-2011); (his death)|
|Parents||Linus Pitts Napier,
Sara Lena (nee Loafman) Napier
Napier was born in Mt. Union, Kentucky, the son of Sara Lena (née Loafman) (1897–1974) and Linus Pitts Napier (1888–1991). After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1954, serving with the 11th Airborne Division and rising to the rank of sergeant.
After his service, he attended Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, graduating in 1961 with a major in art and minor in physical education. He wanted to be a basketball coach and his first job was as an assistant coach at his old high school. Soon after, he gave up coaching, eventually taking jobs with a bridge company and an advertising agency before moving to Clearwater, Florida to teach art at JFK Junior High School.
In 1964, he returned to attend graduate school at Western Kentucky where he was encouraged to pursue acting by instructor D. Russell Miller. Following some success in the local Alley Playhouse, Napier moved back to Florida where he continued to teach as well as act in community theater, eventually moving into Clearwater's Little Theatre as its live-in caretaker. During this time he also pursued another passion – painting.
After filming a trucker movie, Napier wrote articles and took pictures for Overdrive magazine for a few years until a major truck strike in 1973 sent him back to Hollywood. Napier was reduced to living in his car on a parking lot, and claimed that one day a limo pulled up and its driver said, "Are you Charles Napier? Mr. Hitchcock would like to see you." Napier was taken to Universal Studios to meet Alfred Hitchcock, and was placed under contract with Universal Studios. In a different interview Napier also claimed to have been introduced to the movies when his girlfriend brought him along as an informal bodyguard for an audition with Russ Meyer. Meyer then offered Napier a role and Napier went on to become an important figure in the Meyer film universe.
He also began making regular appearances in Jonathan Demme's movies, including The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia. Some of Napier's memorable roles include Murdock, the intelligence officer commanding Rambo in Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and Tucker McElroy, lead singer and driver of the Winnebago for "The Good Ol' Boys" in The Blues Brothers (1980).
He also provided some of the Hulk's growls on 1970s television series The Incredible Hulk. (The others were done by Ted Cassidy.) He also guest starred on the series and in the 1989 telefilm The Incredible Hulk Returns. He appeared in two episodes of the 1980s hit TV series The A-Team once as Col. Briggs. He also co-starred in a couple of The Rockford Files episodes, and played Hammer, Greg Evigan's character's nemesis, in the short-lived series B. J. and the Bear in the 1970s.
He is well known among Star Trek fans for appearing on both Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Way to Eden" as musically inclined space hippie Adam, and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Little Green Men" as General Denning. He also appeared in the pilot episode of Knight Rider in 1982.
From 1997–2000, he did voice work as General Hardcastle on Superman: The Animated Series produced by Warner Bros. and reprised the role in 2004 on Justice League. In 2002, he provided the voice of Roy the Wrangler in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.
Napier provided the voice for Duke Phillips, the Ted Turner-inspired network owner in the 1990s animated series The Critic. From 1997 through 2001, he provided the voice for Zed on Men in Black: The Series. He has also provided several guest voices for episodes of The Simpsons. He provided the voice for the Sheriff on Squidbillies for season one and episodes 201–203, although uncredited. He was replaced by Bobby Ellerbee.
Napier appeared in the 2009 horror film Murder World alongside Scout Taylor-Compton. His last film role was in the 2009 comedy The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard opposite Jeremy Piven and James Brolin. Prior to his death in October of 2011, Napier published a book about his life and experiences in Hollywood, titled "Square Jaw and Big Heart", with Dante W. Renzulli Jr.as co-author. The publisher of the book is BearManor Media of Albany, Georgia (ISBN 978-1-59393-624-2).
Napier died on October 5, 2011, after collapsing the previous day. He was 75 years old. The exact cause of death was not released, but Napier had been treated for thrombus in his legs in May 2010. Napier is survived by his second wife, Dee, and their young children, Hunter and Meghan, as well as by his son, Chuck, from a previous marriage, which had ended in divorce.
- Star Trek, episode "The Way to Eden" (1969) (TV)
- Cherry, Harry & Raquel! (1970)
- Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)
- The Seven Minutes (1971)
- Moonfire (1973)
- Supervixens (1975)
- Citizen's Band (1977)
- The Blues Brothers (1980) – Tucker McElroy
- Melvin and Howard (1980)
- The Dukes of Hazzard (1981) - Digger Jackson
- The Blue and the Gray (1982) (miniseries)
- Wacko (1982)
- Knight Rider (1982) (TV)
- China Lake (1983)
- The Dukes of Hazzard (1983) - Pete
- Swing Shift (1984)
- In Search of a Golden Sky (1984)
- Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
- Instant Justice (1986)
- Outlaws (1986) (TV)
- Something Wild (1986)
- Camping del Terrore (1987)
- Deep Space (1988)
- Married to the Mob (1988)
- Hit List (1989)
- Ernest Goes to Jail (1990) – Warden
- Miami Blues (1990)
- Maniac Cop 2 (1990)
- The Grifters (1990)
- The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
- Mean Tricks (1992)
- Three Ninja's knuckle up (1992)
- Loaded Weapon 1 (1993)
- Philadelphia (1993)
- Body Bags (1993) (TV)
- Skeeter (1993)
- The Critic (Voice) (1994 - 95) (TV)
- Jury Duty (1995) - Jed
- Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1995)
- 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up (1995)
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1995) - General Denning
- Pacific Blue (1996) - Tyrone Justice (TV)
- The Cable Guy (1996) - Arresting Officer
- Steel (1997)
- Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
- Superman: The Animated Series (Voice) (1997) (TV)
- Beloved (1998)
- The Big Tease (1999)
- Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
- Very Mean Men (2000)
- Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000)
- Roswell: Summer of '47 (2000) (TV) - Hal Carver
- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) – Roy (Voice)
- The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
- DinoCroc (2004)
- Justice League (TV series) (Voice) (2004)
- Lords of Dogtown (2005)
- Annapolis (2006)
- One-Eyed Monster (2008)
- Murder World (2009)
- The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009)
- "The Official Charles Napier Website". Illumina Productions. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
- Charles Napier profile at Film Reference.com
- New York Times obituary
- Notice of Napier's death in The Hollywood Reporter
- Paul, Louis (2008). "Charles Napier". Tales From the Cult Film Trenches; Interviews with 36 Actors from Horror, Science Fiction and Exploitation Cinema. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. pp. 180–185. ISBN 978-0-7864-2994-3.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charles Napier (actor).|
- Charles Napier at Find a Grave
- Charles Napier at the Internet Movie Database
- Charles Napier at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)