He was the last of a classic breed of character actor, the kind with a face that is instantly recognizable yet almost as hard to place. Charles Napier acted in almost 200 movies and TV shows in his 41 year career, in everything from B-grade exploitation flicks to Oscar-winning fare, typically playing military authority figures or nefarious bad guys. Napier died today in Memorial Hospital in Bakersfield, Calif. after collapsing in his house the night before. He was 75.
Napier got his start in acting in film in the late 1960s in a number of cheap exploitation films, including a number of films with Russ Meyer–Cherry, Harry & Raquel!, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, The Seven Minutes, and Supervixens.
In 1977, Napier was cast in Handle With Care, a B-movie tying in to the then-popular CB radio craze. The young director of that film was another talent who was rising out of the B-movie ghetto (he got his directorial start on a number pictures produced by Roger Corman).
That director was Jonathan Demme, and obviously the actor and director establish a bond as Demme would cast Napier in nine of his next eleven films, including the Oscar-winning Philadelphia and Silence of the Lambs (the only Demme films other than documentaries that Napier didn’t have a role in was Rachel Getting Married and The Truth About Charlie).
Napier would also do supporting work in a number of blockbusters over the years, including The Blues Brothers, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. His last film role was in 2009’s The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard.
In addition to his film work, Napier had an extensive resume of television work, both in live-action and voice work for animation.
Via KERO 23.