Charles Napier, 75, passed away Wednesday at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital near his home in California. The cause of death is unclear. The actor, recognized for his square, granite jaw and toothy grin, is best known for playing tough guys and military figures in movies.
Born on April 12, 1936 in Scottsville, Ky., the son of a tobacco farmer and homemaker, Napier dreamed of becoming a basketball coach. When an athletic scholarship eluded him, Napier joined the Army and was stationed in Germany for three years in the US Army 11th Airborne Division. After receiving a bachelor's degree in art in 1961, he taught high school art courses.
By 1965, Napier was determined to make it as an actor. He moved to Los Angeles, where he allegedly became friends with Jack Nicholson, who helped him find an agent. He made his film debut in 1970, appearing full-frontal in Russ Meyer's Cherry, Harry & Raquel and went on to have small parts in the TV series Mission: Impossible, Kojak, Baretta, and Rockford Files. His success began, however, when he found his niche playing tough guys and military types.
Remembering Charles Napier: His Top 5 Tough-Guy Movie Roles:
5. Napier provided some of the Hulk's growls for the 1970s television series The Incredible Hulk. (The others were done by Ted Cassidy.)
4. He played the scheming intelligence officer facing Sylvester Stallone in the 1985 Rambo sequel, Rambo: First Blood II.
3. The actor served justice in his role as the judge in 1993's Philadelphia.
2. Napier played the creepy Lt. Bill Boyle in 1991's Silence of the Lambs.
1. Napier may be best known as the Good ole Boys front man Tucker McElroy in The Blues Brothers, where he infamously sneered, You're gonna look pretty funny trying to eat corn on the cob with no f---ing teeth.
Napier, who was divorced twice, is survived by a daughter, Meghan, and two sons, Whit and Hunter.