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Jamie Farr remembers ARNOLD

Jamie Farr as Dybbi in Arnold...and as Max Klinger in M*A*S*H*

Jamie Farr was kind and gracious enough to answer a few questions
regarding his participation in the film.

Q: Most people are familiar, of course, with your wonderful character of Max Klinger on M*A*S*H*. Had you begun work on M*A*S*H* before ARNOLD, or after you were signed to portray Klinger?
A: I was just going into our second season of M*A*S*H when I started filming Arnold. We had been on Sunday evenings opposite Wonderful World of Disney on NBC and the series was about 56th in the ratings. I was jubilant that the series was picked up for another year and was moved to Saturday night in the greatest line-up in television history...All In the Family, Mary Tyler Moore, MASH, The Bob Newhart Show and finally The Carol Burnett Show. This line-up may not be in the accurate order but the shows were all on that night on CBS. William Jurgensen, MASH's cinematographer was also hired to do the cinematography for Arnold. Check the credits.

Q: Did the subject of ARNOLD ever pop up in conversations on the set of the 4077th, or had any other cast members seen the film?
A: As for anyone on the MASH set asking me about Arnold.....nope. I don't think they knew I had done a feature film in between seasons. Actually I had not been contracted to MASH yet...I was merely a day player who would be called when needed.

Q: How were you handed the role of Dybbi, and what made Andrew Fenady feel you were right for the part?
A: Andrew Fenady is an old friend of mine from Toledo, Ohio. I had worked for him before in numerous television series which he produced and a pilot for NBC which did not sell. He was always looking for something for me in any of his films. He is a great and loyal friend. He had used me in a serious role in an episode of The Rebel starring the late Nick Adams and he believed I would be good and convincing in the role of Dybbi.

Q: Did you prep yourself in any special way for the role? It's a wonderful pantomime performance!
A: I did not use any extra preparation for the role...I called upon my skills as an actor and used whatever I had acquired to portray Dybbi.

Q: I don't think I've ever seen you with such a heavy makeup job and costume, not counting, of course, any of Klinger's occasionally intricate frocks! Was it a long makeup session?
A: I am not certain how long the make-up process took. It has been many years and my memory is not the sharpest. I have not seen the film in years and I can not fully recollect exactly what I looked like in the make-up.

Q: Did anyone in your family get to see you in that rather sinister-looking makeup and costume?
A: My wife, Joy, saw me in it when we went to the very first screening of the film. She has always been a great supporter of me and my career and thought I looked menacing and did a creditable job as an actor.

Q: How long did you actually work on ARNOLD for your scenes? Was it any easy shoot, or were there any difficult scenes you did?
A: Again, I do not remember how long I worked on the film. I can't say that any of the scenes were extremely difficult. I had a terrific time with all the cast members and our Director, Georg Fenady...who also happens to be my son's Godfather. Much fun.

Q: During the wedding scene at the beginning, as the two little girls are horsing around when the ceremony is beginning, Dybbi stops the shenanigans by suddenly thrusting his hook right between the two little girls. Had I been them at that young an age, I would have been scared! How did those two little actresses react?
A: Because I have not seen the film in years I do not remember the scene with the little girls. I probably did frighten them. I would like to think I was a good enough actor to have frightened them.

Q: Did you strictly follow the script and Georg Fenady's direction, or were you allowed any improv or input into your character?
A: We stayed to the script, as I recall. Of course I did not say anything so I stuck to whatever the script indicated and added my little miming nuances.

Q: Several of your costars in ARNOLD were already Hollywood legends by then: Roddy McDowall, Elsa Lanchester, Farley Granger, Patric Knowles, and Bernard Fox was known as Dr. Bombay from Bewitched. What was it like being in close company with some of them?
A: I had worked with Roddy on the film The Greatest Story Ever it was fun being reunited with him. A wonderful actor, photographer and person. He is missed. As for all the others? What a treat. I had been a fan of each and every one of the wonderful performers. Patric Knowles in Robin Hood, Charge of the Light Brigade and all the films he did at Universal Studios. Farley Granger and all of the Hitchcock films.

Q: Genre fans who read this will probably want to know, like myself, if Roddy ever talked about the Apes films on the set, or if Elsa ever mentioned her now-classic role in The Bride of Frankenstein?
A: Elsa never mentioned the Bride of Frankenstein to me and I never ventured to ask her about it. I figured she was probably tired of talking about it after so many years.

Q: When did you last watch yourself in ARNOLD? :-)
A: I have not seen Arnold in maybe ten or fifteen years.

Q: If you were offered a role like Dybbi in a film like ARNOLD today, would you do it?
A: If a role such as Dybbi were offered to me today...yes I would take it. An actor is an actor is an actor.

Thank you for spending the time to answer these questions, Jamie. I've encountered the subject of ARNOLD on a few classic horror and movie message boards on the internet, and there's definitely people out there who know and love the film!

Go back to the ARNOLD index page