Jamie Farr: Love, Luck, and a Promise

Jamie Farr, the beloved Hollywood actor, has a love story that defies convention. He and his wife, Jo Ann Richards, have been happily married for almost 60 years. But when he proposed to her, there was no ring involved. This may seem unusual, but it’s a testament to their enduring love.

Jamie Farr attends the 4th annual Roger Neal Oscar Viewing Dinner Icon Awards and after party at Hollywood Palladium on February 24, 2019. | Photo: Getty Images
During the early days of his acting career, Farr faced many challenges. He struggled to find acting gigs and often had to settle for meager sums of money. He wasn’t concerned with luxury; he just needed to put food on the table and make ends meet with his partner, Jo Ann Richards.

Desperate for employment, Farr did something out of character. He went to the studio of the late Danby Thomas and stuck his head out until he was noticed. Luckily, Thomas’s crew was busy with a new show called “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and Farr managed to secure a part.

It seemed like Farr’s career was finally starting to take off. He introduced Richards to Dick Van Dyke, only to discover that they had grown up in the same small town. Farr appeared in four episodes of the show before being replaced by another actor who had more connections in the industry.

However, Farr’s luck eventually turned around. He received an opportunity to audition for a movie called “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” Although the filmmakers initially wanted a serious actor and Farr was known for his comedic skills, he convinced them that he could take on a serious role.

During the waiting period, Farr would drive Richards to work every day. He shared with her that he would pray to St. Jude for the chance to land the movie gig. He made a habit of stopping at a Catholic church near Richards’ workplace, lighting a candle, and saying a prayer, accompanied by a quarter as an offering.

This routine continued for some time until one day, Farr received a disappointing call. He did not get the acting gig he had hoped for. Frustrated and angry, he went to the Catholic church and berated St. Jude. Little did he know that his fortunes were about to change.

When Farr arrived home, his phone rang, and it was from the same movie maker. They informed him that things had shifted, and he had indeed secured the role. He wasted no time preparing for his new gig. But there was a twist of fate awaiting him.

Shortly after receiving the good news, Farr received another call offering him a different role — to play St. Jude himself. It was a remarkable turn of events. With these opportunities in hand, Farr decided it was time to marry Richards. Their wedding took place at an Orthodox church, where the actors who played the apostles, Jesus, and Mary the Mother of God were all present.

The presence of these actors overwhelmed the minister presiding over the ceremony, who joked, “This is the first time I ever worked in front of the boss,” while pointing at Max Von Sydow, who portrayed Jesus. It was a moment filled with joy and gratitude for everything Farr had overcome.

As Farr’s career began to flourish, he always remembered the difficult years he endured. But amidst it all, he had a steadfast and supportive partner by his side. Even though he hadn’t proposed with a ring, he had promised Richards that he would get one once their circumstances improved.

It took 13 years for Farr to fulfill that promise. He fondly recalled the day he presented Richards with a 1.5-carat emerald ring at their favorite restaurant. It was a moment brimming with emotion as tears welled up in her eyes.

Jamie Farr’s love story is a testament to perseverance, luck, and the power of a promise. Through the ups and downs of his career, he found strength in his marriage and celebrated how far he had come. And he always remembered the “long dry years” that shaped his journey, grateful for the love and support of his wife, Jo Ann Richards.

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