R.I.P. James Hampton, F Troop bugler and Michael J. Fox's dad in Teen Wolf
The Oklahoma native also played a ranch hand on The Doris Day Show.
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James Hampton began his screen career as a go-to goofball. Gunsmoke cast him as Eliab Haggen, Festus' even quirkier cousin (which is saying something) who comes to Dodge to shoot off a piece of his ear in "Eliab's Aim." That same year, in 1965, he landed his biggest role yet, a lead as part of the F Troop ensemble.
On that wacky Western comedy, he played Bugler Private Hannibal Shirley Dobbs, a mama's boy from Louisiana. He often earned the ire of Corporal Agarn (Larry Storch) who would blurt, "I'm warning you, Dobbs!"
After appearing throughout the two seasons of that sitcom, Hampton landed another role that cast him as a naïve country boy, on The Doris Day Show. That series went through several iterations and scenarios, but in its first season, Doris moves to a ranch in rural California, where she is assisted by the somewhat incompetent LeRoy B. Simpson, played by Hampton.
The show drastically retooled in season two, when Doris moves to San Francisco and starts working at a magazine. LeRoy was left behind.
For the next decade, Hampton largely took guest roles on television. His biggest gig came on the silver screen, playing "Caretaker" in The Longest Yard. That movie reteamed him with Burt Reynolds. Remember that Gunsmoke episode "Eliab's Arm"? That was Reynolds penultimate episode on Gunsmoke as Quint Asper.
Eighties pop culture lovers will remember Hampton for a hairier role — he was the werewolf father of Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf. He was arguably the lynchpin of the franchise. He reprised the role of Harold Howard in both Teen Wolf Too and the cartoon series Teen Wolf.
While it was a flop, another fascinating credit on Hampton's resume was Mary, the 1978 sketch-comedy / variety show centered around Mary Tyler Moore. Hampton was part of a sketch team that included by David Letterman and Michael Keaton. Despite that gathered talent, it lasted a mere handful of episodes.
The Oklahoma-born University of North Texas graduate also had memorable roles in The Cat From Outer Space (1978), The China Syndrome (1979) and Sling Blade (1996). On April 7, Hampton passed away in his Texas home, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 84.