Long-time actor James Hampton died on Wednesday, April seventh. His agent confirmed to Variety that he passed away at his home in Texas due to complications from Parkinsons disease. The actor was 84 years old. Hampton appeared on many television series over the years. The actor was well-liked by Johnny Carson, and eventually appeared on his show over 30 times. Today, many knew James Hamptom as the father on the original Teen Wolf or for his work as Caretaker on The Longest Yard, which earned him a Golden Globe Nomination.
The Teen Wolf role earned him recognition from many as a dad they would like to have. James Hampton was often said to be considered funny and affable in his personal life, and this translated to how he was seen on screen. His first acting credit was in 1962, when he was still in his 20s. From there, he would never seem to stop working. He appeared in dozens of television shows and television movies, never slowing down until he landed the role of Harold Howard in 1985’s Teen Wolf. After that, he played the voice of the same character for the animated series and then took up the role again for the sequel film. He was on 49 episodes of Days of Our Lives, played Jerry Woolridge in Sling Blade, and had many other small roles that he took and made memorable through thoughtful and funny work.
Hampton was often asked about how he managed to build such a sustainable career and work on projects like Teen Wolf and The Longest Yard. Not many people are able to build such sustainable careers in Hollywood and on such a variety of projects. Some of that is probably persistence and skill. While most of Hampton’s work was on screen, he also worked behind the scenes as a producer, writer, and director. James Hampton said in an interview that he felt a lot of it was about choosing projects, the right script, and knowing yourself and what you can be and do.
Long before he was on Teen Wolf, James Hampton studied acting in New York and then in Los Angeles with Leonard Nimoy. After he worked with Burt Reynolds in The Longest Yard, he worked with the actor on several other projects, For example, he directed several episodes of the Burt Reynolds show Evening Shade. It seemed like some of his success came from networking and seeming to be a likable man who made friends on the job, whether with Burt Reynolds, his longtime work on Teen Wolf, or with Johnny Carson. People worked with James Hampton and then wanted to work with him again. In any industry, that’s a sizable compliment.
In early 2021, James Hampton wrote an autobiography titled What? And Give Up Show Business?. Like much of his work, reviewers have called it hilarious. The actor put family recipes into his autobiography, sprinkled in between stories about working with Clint Eastwood or Doris Day. He also talks about working with Michael J. Fox on Teen Wolf.
The family asked friends and fans to send donations to the Michael J. Fox Foundation in lieu of flowers.