James Hampton made his film debut in an unnamed bit part in the 1960 drama WILD RIVER. In the film, Tennessee Valley Authority bureaucrat “Chuck Glover” (Montgomery Clift) comes to the river to do what none of his predecessors have been able to do—evict stubborn octogenarian “Ella Garth” (Jo Van Fleet) from her island before the rising waters engulf her. In his efforts, Chuck also appeals to Ella's granddaughter, “Carol Baldwin” (Lee Remick), a young and lonely widow with two small children, who moved to the island after the death of her husband.
Elia Kazan directed the 1960 drama, which has an unreleased score by Kenyon Hopkins. 20th Century Fox wanted Kazan to cast Marilyn Monroe in the lead actress role, but Kazan dismissed the idea as absurd. From the outset, he wanted to cast Lee Remick who he'd worked with on A FACE IN THE CROWD (1957). The film grossed a disappointing $3.6 million.
After a few television guest shots, James Hampton had his first regular television series role in “F Troop”, a satirical western series. “F Troop” is set at Fort Courage—a fictional United States Army outpost in the Old West—from just at the end of the American Civil War in 1865 to at least 1867. There is a town of the same name adjacent to the fort. Fort Courage was named for the fictitious General Sam Courage (portrayed by Cliff Arquette).
Ken Berry played the Fort’s commanding officer, the gallant although laughably clumsy “Captain Wilton Parmenter.” The other series stars included Forrest Tucker as “Sergeant O'Rourke,” Larry Storch as “Corporal Agarn,” and Melody Patterson as “‘Wrangler’ Jane,” Captain Parmenter's beautiful but tomboyish, feisty girlfriend.
James Hampton played Private “Hannibal Shirley Dobbs” – F Troop's inept bugler, originally from New Orleans, who can only play "Yankee Doodle" and "Dixie" with regularity. Standard U.S. Army tunes like "Reveille", "Assembly" and "Retreat" are only occasionally played competently. One episode had Dobbs playing a song, which Wrangler Jane says is a lovely rendition of "Old Kentucky Home", only for him to say he'd been trying to play "Reveille".
A southern "mama's boy", Dobbs is also Captain Parmenter's orderly, as well as serving in the Fort's cannon crew—usually with disastrous results. Private Dobbs is a personal thorn in Agarn's side, with his regular taunts resulting in Agarn's frequent retort, "I'm warning you, Dobbs!", even threatening him with a court-martial. Dobbs learned how to use a lasso on his mama's alligator farm. He was briefly promoted to Corporal in the episode "Lieutenant O'Rourke, Front and Center". In one episode, O'Rourke saved Dobbs from being married by explaining to a gold-digging mail-order bride that Dobbs was not a rich man.
Ken Berry and James Hampton in “F Troop”
The show premiered on ABC on Tuesday, 14 September 1965, at 9 PM. It followed “McHale’s Navy,” then in its fourth and final season. Despite the fact that the show was going up against the last half hour of the #4-rated show on all of television, “The Red Skelton Show,” “F Troop” received a renewal for a second season.
ABC was in the process of switching to an all-color show line-up, and “F Troop” was upgraded from the black-and-white of its first season to color for the season that started in September 1966. ABC moved the series to Thursdays at 8 PM, following the strong lead-in “Batman,” then starting its second season. “F Troop”’s competition was also weaker in its second season, with the #25 “Daniel Boone” on NBC being its strongest foe. But, although “F Troop” finished as the #40-rated series for the year (out of 113 shows), it was canceled. Various reasons were proffered for the show’s demise, among them that Warner Bros.' new owners, Seven Arts, discontinued production because they thought it was wasteful for so much of the Warner Ranch to be taken up by a single half-hour TV show. Producer William Orr said the studio was also unhappy with the added costs of producing the show in color during its second season.
In 1967, during the second year of the show, Dick Linke — who was Ken Berry's manager, and also managed Andy Griffith and Jim Nabors — pitched an “F Troop” stage show to Bill Harrah, founder of Harrah's Entertainment, which included a casino and hotel in Reno, Nevada. Harrah went for it, and Berry, Larry Storch, Forrest Tucker, and James Hampton put together a show, hiring writers and a choreographer to assist. While performing the Reno show, they received word that “F Troop” had been canceled.
Ken Berry, Larry Storch, and James Hampton in “F Troop”
Although the 65 episodes produced fell short of the magic 100 usually needed for a program’s success in syndication, “F Troop” enjoyed a considerable run in syndication, and was being broadcast on Me-TV as recently as September 2013, nearly 50 years after it debuted.
William Lava composed the show’s iconic theme song, which like most of producer Orr’s western series (“Maverick,” “Cheyenne,” “Bronco,”) featured a male chorus. Lava provided a muscular orchestral version of the theme for the end credits, punctuated by a bugle call.
It was only after her husband Martin Melcher died of heart disease on April 20, 1968 that Doris Day discovered that, in addition to the deal for her most recent film with CBS’s Cinema Center Films, Melcher had negotiated a multi-million-dollar contract with CBS for Day to do a television series for the network. Day also found out that not only was she contracted to work, she had to work, because Melcher had squandered most of the money she had earned during their 17-year marriage, on poor investments.
Day began work on the series almost immediately, and CBS premiered “The Doris Day Show”, a half-hour situation comedy, on Tuesday, 24 September 1968 at 9:30 PM. In the show, Day was cast as a widow (“Doris Martin”) with two young sons who had decided to move back to the family ranch, in Mill Valley, north of San Francisco, after spending most of her life in big cities. The ranch was run by her father “Buck Webb” (Denver Pyle), their hired hand “Leroy Simpson” (James Hampton), and the housekeeper “Aggie” (Fran Ryan). (At mid-season, Aggie was replaced by a new housekeeper, “Juanita” (Naomi Stevens).)
“The Doris Day Show” was immediately popular, besting its timeslot competition of “N.Y.P.D.” on ABC and NBC’s “Tuesday Night at the Movies,” and coming in as the #30 rated show for the year. The show was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best TV Show, but lost to “Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.” Day herself was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best TV Star – Female. She lost to Diahann Carroll for “Julia.”
For its second season (1969-70), CBS moved the show to the 9:30 PM spot in its powerful Monday night lineup, where each of the series was a top-15 show. The format of “The Doris Day Show” changed. Doris was now in the workforce. She got a job as a secretary at Today’s World magazine in San Francisco and commuted daily from the farm. “Mr. Nicholson” (McLean Stevenson) was her boss, and “Myrna Gibbons” (Rose Marie) was a secretary with whom Doris became friendly. Denver Pyle remained a regular cast member, while James Hampton appeared in only one episode, his character now married and owning a gas station in Mill Valley.
In its third season (1970-71), Doris, her two boys, and their huge dog “Lord Nelson” left the farm and moved into a San Francisco apartment owned by “Angie and Louie Palucci” (Kaye Ballard and Bernie Kopell), who ran an Italian restaurant on the ground floor. Hampton's character Leroy appears in only one episode; he now lives in Montana and travels the rodeo circuit to raise the money to buy his own ranch.
When the format of “The Doris Day Show” changed yet again for seasons 4 and 5, James Hampton’s character was dropped completed. In total, he appeared in 24 episodes of the show.
In SOLDIER BLUE, “Cresta Marybelle Lee” (Candice Bergen) and “Private Honus Gant” (Peter Strauss), the sole survivors of a Cheyenne massacre, set out for Fort Reunion. As they travel, the foulmouthed Cresta reveals that during two years of captivity she was the wife of “Spotted Wolf” (Jorge Rivero), head of the raiding party, and that she now intends to marry “Lieutenant John McNair” (Bob Carraway), her wealthy fiancé. James Hampton played “Private Menzies” in the film.
Ralph Nelson directed this 1970 western. Seventeen minutes of Roy Budd’s debut feature film score were released on a Pye Records LP in Great Britain. It was re-issued on CD by Soundtrack Listeners Club in Japan in 1993. An extra track of one theme was included on subsequent Cinephile and Silva Screen CD reissues.
The $2.5 million production didn’t make it into the top 50 films at the American box office, yet still eked out a profit, with a $3.6 million U.S. gross. However, SOLDIER BLUE was the third biggest grosser at the UK box office in 1971, just behind THE ARISTOCATS and the spin-off of the popular British TV show ON THE BUSES.
As THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING opens, an English woman, "Catherine 'Cat' Crocker" (Sarah Miles), dressed in a proper riding habit rides through the desert in an attempt to run away from her husband, "Willard Crocker" (George Hamilton). Meanwhile, train robber "Jay Grobart" (Burt Reynolds) boards the train at Wamsutter while his accomplice, "Billy Bowan" (Bo Hopkins), wedges dynamite into the rails down the tracks.
James Hampton played a telegraph operator in the film. This was not the first time that Hampton had been in a film with Burt Reynolds. Hampton appeared with Reynolds in the Paramount production FADE IN, which was shot in 1967 during the production of Terence Stamp’s BLUE (1968), but never got a theatrical release. It was eventually sold directly to CBS-TV, where it premiered on the CBS Late Movie on 8 November 1973. Hampton would go on to appear in a number of other films with Burt Reynolds.
Richard C. Sarafian directed THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING. John Williams' score (and Michel Legrand's rejected score) were released by Film Score Monthly in 2002. The picture squeaked into the top 40 films of the year at the 1973 U.S. box office, with a $9.1 million gross.
In 1974's THE LONGEST YARD, a sadistic prison warden (Eddie Albert) asks former pro quarterback “Paul Crewe” (Burt Reynolds), now serving time in his prison, to put together a team of inmates to take on (and get pummeled by) the guards. James Hampton plays fellow inmate “James ‘Caretaker’ Ferrell,” who befriends Paul but wonders why the former athlete threw away a successful career.
Burt Reynolds and James Hampton in THE LONGEST YARD
James Hampton said that he was originally supposed to play shifty, older inmate “Unger,” but wanted to play Caretaker instead. Charles Tyner was given the Unger role. Robert Aldrich directed the film. Frank DeVol's score was released by Quartet in 2017. Although it received mixed reviews, THE LONGEST YARD was the 11th highest grossing film at the box office in 1974, taking in more than $43 million in North America.
In FORCE FIVE, three ex-cons—"James T. O’Neil” (Nick Pryor), “Vic Bauer” (William Lucking) and “Lester White” (James Hampton)—and disgraced cop “Arnie Kogan” (Roy Jenson) are recruited by tough talking police officer “Lt. Roy Kessler” (Gerald Gordon) to help battle organized crime. Regular cops aren’t cutting the mustard and getting the results needed, so the department resorts to hiring crooks so they can use their skills to catch similar law breakers. At first reluctant to make the career change, the new crime fighting team soon bond and become adept at catching the bad guys.
Walter Grauman directed this made-for-television film, which aired on CBS on 28 March 1975. James Di Pasquale provided the unreleased score.
In W.W. AND THE DIXIE DANCEKINGS, "W.W. Bright" (Burt Reynolds) is a robber with a heart of gold who travels the South of 1957 knocking off banks and gas stations owned by a corrupt businessman. When he hijacks a car, he meets an aspiring country band, the Dixie Dancekings, led by "Dixie" (Conny Van Dyke). The female lead of Dixie was originally offered to Lynn Anderson and then Dolly Parton, both of whom turned it down. James Hampton had a supporting role as one of the bandmembers, drummer “Junior.”
James Hampton (second from left) in W.W. AND THE DIXIE DANCEKINGS
Three members of the fictional “Dixie Dancekings”—Conny Van Dyke, Jerry Reed, and Don Williams—were country music stars. Mel Tillis, another popular country music artist, portrayed a gas station attendant. Walter E. “Furry” Lewis, who portrayed “Uncle Furry,” was a well-known Memphis blues musician. His character was called “Uncle Boaz” in the novel and screenplay, but director John Avildsen told the 29 August 1974 Rolling Stone that he used Lewis’ own first name, because there was no way to “improve on a name like Furry.”
Dave Grusin scored the 1975 film, but most of the 20th Century Records LP was filled with country songs. The LP has not had a CD re-issue. The film was #20 at the box office for the year, grossing $17 million.
Burt Reynolds worked a second time with director Robert Aldrich in 1975's HUSTLE. The pair formed RoBurt Productions for the creation of the film. Steve Shagan's story found a Los Angeles cop (Reynolds) investigating the suspicious circumstances of a girl's apparent suicide, at the instigation of her grieving father (Ben Johnson). Catherine Deneuve co-starred as a call girl. James Hampton played a bus driver in the film.
Unlike the earlier Reynolds-Aldrich collaboration, THE LONGEST YARD, HUSTLE did not do as well at the box office. But it still ended up as the 17th highest-grossing film of the year, with a $31.5 million domestic take. Frank DeVol's score was released by Quartet in 2017.
At the beginning of MACKINTOSH & T.J., “Mackintosh” (Roy Rogers) roams the West in his battered pickup truck, looking for a day’s work here and there as he moseys along. In one town, he watches a tough sheriff hassle “T.J.” (Clay O’Brien), a 13-year-old kid who’s given up on foster homes and orphanages, hence an arrest for vagrancy and orders from the sheriff to vamoose. Mackintosh frees the kid from trouble with the law, so they travel together for a spell, becoming friends. Once Mackintosh lands an open-ended job on a cattle ranch, he swings a gig for T.J. as well, and they begin to set down roots until intrigue reveals their situation is precarious. James Hampton, who received his first poster credit on the film, plays “Cotton,” one of the ranch hands.
MACKINTOSH & T.J. was former singing cowboy Roy Rogers’ first theatrical starring role since 1952’s SON OF PALEFACE, and it would prove to be his final feature film. Marvin J. Chomsky directed the 1976 film. Waylon Jennings’ score and songs for the film were released on an RCA Victor LP, but the LP has not been re-issued on CD. The $800,000 independent production received limited distribution.
James Hampton had his first lead role in the western comedy HAWMPS!. The film is set in 1854, at Fort Val Verde, Texas, where the U.S. Cavalry is experimenting with the novel idea of using camels rather than horses as a means of transportation. Hampton plays “Lt. Howard Clemmons,” a Washington, D.C. gofer who gets assigned the thankless task of supervising the camel experiment. Upon arriving at his outpost in the West, Clemmons takes command of a squad led by “Sgt. Tibbs” (Christopher Connelly), even though Tibbs’ men all misunderstood their orders and thought they were getting Arabian horses instead of Arabian camels. High jinks ensue as the camel-riding soldiers clash with the cantankerous “Sergeant Naman Tucker” (Slim Pickens) of a rival squad, and with outlaw “Bad Jack Cutter” (Jack Elam) who commands a town filled with criminals.
James Hampton and Christopher Connelly in HAWMPS!
Joe Camp, who had created the smash hit BENJI two years before, made this 1976 film his second directorial effort. The picture was based on actual events. Euel Box provided the unreleased score. HAWMPS! made it into the top 50 films of the year at the U.S. box office, with a $16.1 million gross, but didn’t get close to BENJI’s $51 million.
James Hampton reunited with his “F Troop” commander Ken Berry in the Disney film THE CAT FROM OUTER SPACE, in which a spaceship, making an emergency landing on Earth, is piloted by an alien cat named Zunar J-5/9 Donc-4-7. His mother ship orders him to repair his spacecraft and meet them at a specified rendezvous point in 69 hours. However, Zunar J-5 leaves the ship just as a team of military officials, headed by "General Stilton" (Harry Morgan), confiscates the spacecraft. Determining the ship is an unidentified flying object, Stilton brings its power source to the Energy Research Laboratory (E.R.L.) for analysis by E.R.L.’s best scientists, including "Dr. Liz Bartlett" (Sandy Duncan), "Dr. Frank Wilson" (Ken Berry) and "Dr. Norman Link" (McLean Stevenson). Sometime later, Zunar J-5 tracks Frank down at his office; and Frank nicknames the cat, “Jake.” James Hampton played a military officer, “Capt. Anderson,” in the film.
The picture was Ken Berry's final feature film appearance. Norman Tokar directed the 1978 comedy. Lalo Schifrin's score has not had a release. The $4 million production made it into the top 40 films of the year with an $18.2 million gross.