Charles Napier (12 April , 1936 – 5 October, 2011) was an American character actor, known for his portrayals of square-jawed tough guys and military types.
Napier was born in the tiny community of Mt. Union, near Scottsville, Kentucky, on April 12, 1936. He was educated in the public schools of Scottsville. He had the pleasure of playing in two state high school basketball tournaments in 1953 and 1954.
After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Army in 1954. He rose to the rank of E-5 (Sgt.) while serving as company clerk with Company A 511th Airborne Infantry, 11th Airborne Division.
After service he attended Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. There he graduated in 1961 with a major in Art and a minor in Physical Education.
His first job was as assistant basketball coach at his old high school. He gave up coaching, eventually taking jobs with a bridge company and an advertising agency before moving to Clearwater, Florida to teach art at JFK Junior High School.
While attending Graduate School back at Western Kentucky in 1964, he was persuaded by D. Russell Miller to try out for a role at the Alley Playhouse. Napier went on to perform in several plays. He played the role of Iago in the play Othello.
He then moved back to Clearwater to continue teaching, but having gotten the acting bug, he became involved in the community theatre in the Clearwater, Tampa and St. Petersburg area. He eventually moved into the Little Theatre in Clearwater as caretaker.
During this time he also pursed his other passion - painting. His watercolour and oil works were very popular in Florida.
In 1965 he auditioned for the Cross and Sword in St. Augustine, Florida. He won the role of Captain Albarez. That fall he gave up teaching and headed for the sidewalks of New York to break into show biz.
This was a very bleak time and with a bitter winter bearing down he set out for San Diego, California and the Shakespeare Festival at the Old Globe Theatre. He played minor roles in three classic plays before moving on to Hollywood.
There began the struggle for existence to make it in the movies and television. He did the usual low paying jobs, such as parking cars, while waiting for his big break. Hanging around the Rain Check Room eventually paid off. He secured an agent and began to make some progress.
The route he took in the entertainment industry was unplanned, but he reasoned that an acting job was work, and was what the business was all about. Anything to keep from going back to the mundane jobs of the past.
His first television guest star role came in 1967 on the series Mission Impossible. Next he landed the historical guest role as Adam in the "Way to Eden" episode of Star Trek.
In 1968, after filming a trucker movie, he decided to see more of the country. Napier took a job with the most powerful trucking magazine in the country, Overdrive. For the next two years he wrote and took pictures for Overdrive Magazine. This job ended during the violent truck strike of 1973 and he found himself back in Hollywood.
Down and out, Napier was living in his car on a parking lot, where one day a limo pulled up to him and the driver asked: "Are you Charles Napier? Mr. Hitchcock would like to see you."
Napier was taken to Universal Studios to meet Alfred Hitchcock, where he was immediately placed under contract with Universal Studios. There he worked on many television shows including Mannix, Rockford Files, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Starsky and Hutch, A-Team, and Knightrider.
In 1977 he starred in the television series Oregon Trail with Rod Taylor. In 1986, he once again starred with Taylor in the series The Outlaws.
Napier's deep voice was also lent to the television series The Incredible Hulk, where he provided the growls for The Hulk.
Napier guest starred in many television shows including Golden Girls, Dallas, Murder She Wrote, Hudson Street, Party of Five, Night Court, Walker Texas Ranger and Deep Space 9.
Until his death, Napier had appeared in every movie that Academy Award winner, Jonathan Demme, had directed, including Melvin and Howard, Married to the Mob, Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, and Beloved.
In 1999 he appeared in The Big Tease with Francis Fisher, Very Mean Men with Charles Durning, and Pirates of the Plain with Dee Wallace Stone.
After 2000, Napier appeared in numerous television shows, including Diagnosis Murder; The Practice; Justice League; The Simpsons; The 4400; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation; Monk; and Squidbillies.
Napier also found success in the voiceover field. Those credits include series such as The Critic (voice of Duke Phillips), The Magician (voice of Vega and Blackjack), Men In Black (voice of Zed), God, Bob, and the Devil (voice of the Preacher).
Napier and his wife, Dee, lived on their ranch in the Southern Sierra Mountains, with their two children - Hunter and Meghan. Napier also has a son, Chuck, who resides in Washington, D.C.
Napier enjoyed sporting clays and was very involved with several shooting events for charities.
He died on 5 October, 2011, age 75. He was survived by his third wife and his children.