Sunday, January 22, 2017

Forgotten Superstars:Charles Napier

Charles Napier might not be a name that you recognize,but I bet you'd recognize his face or even his gravely voice from the 1960's on...

Napier was a character actor that never got the "big break" needed to be lead actor in film or television.
But,what a character actor Napier was with a list of memorable roles beyond my mentioning with an ability to turn a supporting role into one not to be forgotten,

Napier had a few of those for me,the security guard that Anthony Hopkins takes out in Silence of the Lambs, played several police/military types in films such as Austin Powers and was the judge in the Tom Hanks film Philadelphia,but three roles for me stood above the rest for me of Napier's career.

Chronologically,the first was his appearance as "Adam" in the original Star Trek in the "Way to Eden" episode.
The episode is loosely known to Trekkers and others as the "Hippie" episode and James Doohan (Scotty) has been quoted as saying was the worst episode in the entire run of the Star Trek series.
That episode is noted for the hippies calling "squares" "Herbert" constantly,which has caught on through the fandom,lots of rhyming "Crack my knuckles and jump for joy,I've got a clean bill of health from Dr.McCoy!" and also was combined with lots of singing and dancing with singing from Napier's character.
Napier was involved with the writing of the songs in the show and did his own singing,which I'll allow you to decide whether was a good thing or not!
Napier would return to Star Trek with an appearance as a general in Deep Space Nine in the great "Little Green Men" episode built around the Ferengi being the aliens that landed in Roswell,New Mexico.

Napier also was memorable as "Murdock" in Rambo 2 as the corrupt Washington committee leader that abandoned Rambo in Vietnam after Rambo found POW's.
Murdock gave the order to abandon Rambo in order to not have to deal with the political disaster of actually finding the men and the chaos that would ensue.
Napier played the arrogant part perfectly and did a terrific job of selling being scared out of his wits when Rambo tells him he is returning just to "get you" and the climatic scene of the film when Rambo nails Murdock to the desk by his tie with his knife as "Mission Accomplished".

The role that was the smallest of the three,but arguably the most memorable was as "Tucker McElroy" who was the "lead singer and driver of the Winnebago" of the Good Ol' Boys country band in the Blues Brothers.
Napier and his band never actually perform in this film,although considering Napier's background,I would say that there might be some deleted scenes somewhere with the Good Ol' Boys actually performing.
Other than this big scene,Napier/McElroy would only appear in a minor fashion for the remainder of the film chasing the Blues Brothers,but this scene and famous quote would cement Napier in my circle forever!
If you only knew how many times that scene came up with my brother,my oldest friend Greg and of course Ryan,the number has to be astonishing!

Charles Napier passed away in 2011 at the age of 75 and as noted,never accomplished his goal of being a star and his name being recognized,but his work and roles were memorable and among some of us-Charles Napier was more of a star than many stars.
We welcome Charles Napier to the Forgotten Superstars universe....

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