The Long Riders
An American actor, director and producer who started on stage in various roles at the celebrated New York Shakespeare Festival before segueing to television in the early 1970s, James Keach, younger brother of actor Stacy Keach and son of actor Stacy Keach Sr., finally received notice for his performance on the 1980 film The Long Riders five years after making his debut on director James Polakof’s Sunburst. Along with his brother, he co-penned, co-executive produced, and co-starred in this Walter Hill-helmed, critically-praised Western. The tall performer later moved to producing and directing for TV and the wide screen. Keach has directed wife Jane Seymour on a number of television films, most notably the remake of Marriage of Convenience (1998), which was one of the highest rated TV movies of the season, and the Emmy nominee Enslavement: The True Story of Fanny Kemble (2000), in which he also acted as Dr. Huston, and on episodes of the 1990s popular CBS series “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” The couple’s collaboration on the applauded documentary Disease of the Wind (2002) won two honors at the Deep Ellum Film Festival in Dallas. As a film director, Keach earned positive reviews for his work on his second film, The Stars Fell on Henrietta (1995), and has since helmed such vehicles as Camouflage (2001) and Blind Dating (2006). He was nominated for a PGA Golden Laurel’s Motion Picture Producer of the Year for his producing effort in the notable biopic Walk the Line (2005), where he also was cast as Warden.
As for his personal life, Keach has been married to third wife Jane Seymour since 1993. They become the parents of twin boys, John Stacy and Kristopher Steven (born in 1995). He also has a son named Kalen with former wife Mimi Maynard.
Childhood and Family:
Son of actor Stacy Keach Sr. and Mary Cain Peckham, James Keach was born on December 7, 1947, in Savannah, Georgia. His older brother is actor Stacy Keach (born on June 2, 1941). He was educated at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and later at the Yale University School of Drama in New Haven, Connecticut. He also trained under director Joseph Papp at the New York Shakespeare Festival.
James married Holly Collins, sister of Judy Collins, but later divorced after having a son, Kalen Keach. After his marriage to second wife Mimi Maynard ended in 1993, he tied the knot with actress Jane Seymour on May 15, that same year, whom he met on the set of the TV-movie Sunstroke (1992). The couple had twins, John Stacy Keach and Kristopher Steven Keach, in 1995.
Walk the Line
Georgia native James Keach earned classical training as an actor at the prestigious Shakespeare Festival in New York after graduating from Northwestern University and Yale’s School of Drama. He continued to appear on stage with the Body Politic Theater in Chicago, where he also served as director, and also helmed in New York and at Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. His directing credits include “Love Letters,” “Vacation,” “Wildcats,” “The Experts,” “Along Comes a Horseman,” “Moving Violations” and “The Razor’s Edge.”
In 1972, Keach made the entry into television with a role as Orville Wright in a praised biopic about the Wright Brothers in the PBS movie Orville & Wilbur. The following year, he debuted on Broadway as Felice in “The Outcry.” After a series of guest spots and work on television films, Keach segued to film in 1975 with a small part in Sunburst, an independent drama he also co-wrote with director James Polakof. He went on to play supporting roles in his subsequent films, including as Steve in Arthur Storch’s Death Play (1976), Wolfe Messer in the David Carradine vehicle Cannonball (1976), Emil Kroegh in Alan J. Pakula’s Comes a Horseman (1978) and Sgt. Strang in Jon Troell’s remake of Hurricane (1979), which starred Timothy Bottoms and Mia Farrow.
In 1980, Keach’s film career gained boost when he landed the role of Jesse James on the Walter Hill-directed The Long Riders, which he co-executive produced, co-wrote as well as co-starred with his older brother, Stacy. The revisionist Western had real-life brothers playing celebrated fugitives: Nicholas and Christopher Guest were the Fords; Dennis and Randy Quaid were the Millers; Keith, David and Robert Carradine were the Youngers; and the Keach brothers as the James. The outstanding reviews the film earned helped to launch Keach.
Following The Long Riders, regarded as a minor classic, Keach took on supporting roles as a motorcycle cop on Harold Ramis’ National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), adapted by John Hughes from his short stories, the husband of Catherine Hicks on the based-on-novel The Razor’s Edge (1984) for director John Byrum, before offering a hilarious performance as a Gestapo-like traffic cop in Moving Violations (1985), a comedy about a group of ill-fated and sloppy drivers sentenced to attend traffic school. After this project, the actor gradually put acting on the backburner to focus on his behind-the-camera career. He served as producer of the made-for-TV movies A Winner Never Quits (1986), The Experts (1989) and the action film Armed and Dangerous (1986, also a co-writer). He also directed, produced and co-penned the action-thriller telepic The Forgotten (1989). In 1990, he made his feature directorial debut with False Identity, a murder mystery starring Stacy Keach and Genevieve Bujold.
In 1992, Keach helmed Sunstroke (1992), a TV film that starred the soon-to-be-wife actress Jane Seymour, and went on to direct her in such TV films as the mystery Praying Mantis (1993), the biopic A Passion For Justice: The Hazel Brannon Smith Story (1994), The Absolute Truth (1997), as well as in episodes of the CBS series “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” (1993). Meanwhile, on the wide screen, Keach’s direction on 1995’s The Stars Fell on Henrietta won him rave reviews. Set in the early America during the oil boom, the movie starred Robert Duvall as a wildcat oilman, Mr. Cox, as well as Frances Fisher and Aidan Quinn as a young couple Cora and Don Day. Keach and his wife rejoined for the 1998 TV remake of Marriage of Convenience, which became one of the most successful television films of the era. 1998 also saw him return to acting in the independent movie The New Swiss Family Robinson, director Stewart Raffill’s adaptation of a novel by Johann David Wyss. Jane Seymour also starred in this adventure.
Next, Keach directed his wife in the television film mystery Murder in the Mirror (2000), acted as Dr. Huston in the Emmy nominee telepic Enslavement: The True Story of Fanny Kemble (2000) with Seymour and Keith Carradine, which he directed and executive produced, and returned to the director’s chair for his third feature, Camouflage (2001), starring Leslie Nielsen. After working on the television films Blackout and Submerged (both 2001), he directed the critically acclaimed Disease of the Wind (2002), a 54-minute documentary for the Red Cross that picked up two awards when it was shown at Dallas’ Deep Ellum Film Festival, including an audience choice for Best Documentary and a Lionel Rogosin for ‘brilliance in implementation and spirit for a film that serves to help impact the world in an encouraging way through its message.’
In 2005, Keach produced Walk the Line, an acclaimed biopic chronicling the life of country music legend Johnny Cash (played by Joaquin Phoenix). The film brought the producer a PGA Golden Laurel nomination for Motion Picture Producer of the Year, sharing with Cathy Konrad. Keach also appeared in front of the camera as Warden. The following year, he cast Chris Pine as Danny, a blind young man, in the comedy/romance Blind Dating.