Actor. A typecast ‘tough guy’, he had memorable roles in several big screen classics. Raised in Kentucky, he was a noted high school basketball player then joined the US Army in 1954 where he served as a sergeant in the 11th. Airborne. After earning his degree from Western Kentucky University in 1961 he was an assistant coach at his alma mater then gained his first theatrical experience while in graduate school at Western Kentucky. Napier worked as a high school art teacher and basketball coach in Clearwater, Florida, while participating in local amateur stage productions; deciding to attempt making a living with acting he lived briefly in New York before heading to San Diego where he landed several roles at a Shakespeare Festival. He made his television debut on “Mission Impossible” in 1967 then after being seen on “Star Trek”, “Hogan’s Heroes”, and other fare of the time worked for two years as a photojournalist with “Overdrive” magazine. Returning to Hollywood he found little work and was reduced to living in a car when Alfred Hitchcock spotted him in 1975 and signed him to a contract with Universal Studios. Over the years he was to earn a large number of credits including “The Dukes of Hazzard”, “Dallas”, “The A-Team”, “Knight Rider”, “The Rockford Files”, and “Mannix”. In 1980 Napier was Tucker McElroy, head musician of ‘The Good Ol’ Boys’ who had a run-in with Jake and Ellwood in “The Blues Brothers”. He was seen in 1985’s “Rambo: First Blood II” and in 1991 was Memphis Police Lieutenant Boyle who is murdered by Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Jonathan Demme’s “The Silence of the Lambs” and had what he often cited as his favorite part when he was Judge Garnett for Demme’s 1993 “Philadelphia”. Continuing to work for the rest of his life he did a number of cartoon voice overs and was last seen on the silver screen in 2009’s “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard”. Napier lived in Bakersfield from the 1980s on and died a day after collapsing at home.
- April, 12, 1936
- October, 05, 2011
- Bakersfield National Cemetery