James Hampton, ‘F Troop’ and ‘Longest Yard’ Actor, Dies at 84

by Katie Maloney

Actor James Hampton died Wednesday at his home in Fort Worth, Texas.

James Hampton was the veteran character actor best known for his role as the bumbling bugler Hannibal Dobbs on F Troop. Hampton was the quintessential sidekick and made appearances in many key films including the original The Longest Yard during which he played the prison inmate caretaker. Other fans may know Hampton as Michael J. Fox’s father in Teen Wolf. He reprised the role in the 1987 follow-up, Teen Wolf Too, starring Jason Bateman. But he also landed roles in films including The China Syndrome, Condorman, and Sling Blade .

According to a family spokesperson, Hampton died Wednesday of complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Survivors include his second wife, actress Mary Deese. The two married in 2002. Hampton also has three children, James, Andrea and Frank and grandchildren. Instead of flowers, James Hampton’s family requests that donations be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

James Hampton And Burt Reynolds Were Close Friends

In addition to being a great actor, James Hampton also wrote and directed several sitcoms later in his career. One of these sitcoms included the early 1990s series Evening Shade, which featured Burt Reynolds. But the two were friends long before that. They first met as castmates during an episode of Gunsmoke in 1963. During the episode, Hampton played Jeb Willis, a naive young man who is accused of stealing a horse. The two then worked together in the 1973 film The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, and in The Longest Yard in 1974. James Hampton and Burt Reynolds worked together again for two more films the following year, W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, and Hustle.

“I think he liked my sense of humor,” Hampton said during an interview in 2011.