Jamie Farr was born in 1934 in Toledo, Ohio, to Lebanese-American parents Jamelia M. (née Abodeely), a seamstress, and Samuel N. Farah, a grocer. He was raised in the Maronite Eastern Catholic Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch religion. Farr’s first acting success occurred at age 11, when he won two dollars in a local acting contest. After Woodward High School, where he was one of the standouts among his class, Farr attended the Pasadena Playhouse where an MGM talent scout discovered him, offering him a screen-test for Blackboard Jungle. He won the role of the mentally challenged student, Santini. With the encouragement of his mentor, Danny Thomas (who had a lot in common with him), he decided to become an actor.