A Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam, Jim Beaver became familiar to TV audiences while playing experienced prospector Whitney Ellsworth (2004-2006) on HBO’s ensemble Western drama series “Deadwood,” which earned him a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. He has appeared on such TV shows as "Days of Our Lives," "3rd Rock from the Sun," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Big Love" and "Day Break." He is currently starring in the TV series "Supernatural" and "John from Cincinnati."
On the big screen, Beaver could be seen in the films “In Country” (1989), “Sister Act” (1992), “Magnolia” (1999), “Adaptation,” (2002), “The Life of David Gale” (2003) and “Next” (2007). He will star in an upcoming comedy film titled “Cooties.”
The former chairman of the board of Theatre West in Los Angeles is also a stage actor and playwright. He has starred in “Macbeth” and “Last Meeting of The Knights of The White Magnolia” in national tours, as well as in regional theater productions of “The Hasty Heart,” “The Rainmaker,” “The Mousetrap” and “The Lark.” Additionally, he has written and starred in his own plays, “Verdigris,” “Semper Fi” and “Sidekick” and has been awarded three Los Angeles Dramalogue Critics Awards.
An avid writer, Beaver has authored two books, “John Garfield” and “Movie Blockbusters.” He is currently working on his third book about the life and mysterious death of TV's original Superman, George Reeves.
On a more personal note, the 6' 1" tall player has been married twice. He was first married to Milwaukee radio personality Debbie Young and then to actress/casting director Cecily Adams, daughter of “Get Smart” star Don Adams. He was Cecily's husband until her death in 2004. He has one daughter with her and they currently live in Los Angeles.
Childhood and Family:
Son of a Church of Christ minister, Norman Beaver (1924-2004; of French and English heritage), and his Scots-German-Cherokee wife, Dorothy Adell Crawford (born 1928), James Norman Beaver Jr. was born on August 12, 1950, in Laramie, Wyoming. Along with his three younger sisters, Denise, Reneé and Teddlie, Beaver spent his formative years in Irving, Texas, where he and his three sisters attended Irving High School (he was a classmate of ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard). In his senior year, Beaver transferred to Fort Worth Christian Academy and graduated in 1968. He also took courses at Fort Worth Christian College.
From 1968 to 1971, Beaver served in the U.S. Marine Corps where he was trained as a microwave radio relay technician and was in South Vietnam from 1970 to 1971. He was discharged as a Corporal (E-4) in 1971 but remained active in the Marine Reserve until 1976.
Beaver studied at the Oklahoma Christian College from 1971 to 1972 and received his B.A. Degree in Oral Communications from Central State University (now known as the University of Central Oklahoma) in 1975. He later studied acting with Clyde Ventura and Academy Award winning actor Maximilian Schell.
On August 10, 1973, Beaver married his first wife, Deborah S. Young They separated four months later and their divorced was finalized in October 1976. Thirteen years later, on May 7, 1989, Beaver married actress/casting director Cecily Adams, daughter of comic actor Don Adams (of “Get Smart”). Three years after the birth of their daughter, Madeline Rose Beaver (born on August 19, 2001), Cecily died of lung cancer on March 3, 2004.
Beaver currently lives in Los Angeles with his daughter and three cats, Frankie, Heidi and Sigourney Beaver.
John from Cincinnati
Released from active Marine duty in 1971, Jim Beaver worked as a corn-chip dough mixer at Frito-Lay. Despite having performed in several elementary school stage productions, he expressed no specific interest in an acting career, but showed a desire for a career as a writer. He had published a few short stories in his high school anthology and completed his first book while in college.
When Beaver entered what is now Oklahoma Christian University, he began to build his interest in theater and appeared with a tiny role in a production of William Gibson's “The Miracle Worker,” which was based on Helen Keller's autobiography “The Story of My Life.” He also performed in a staging of W. Somerset Maugham's “Rain” at the Oklahoma Theatre Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Returning to Texas, Beaver performed odd jobs before signing up with the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas and the Actors Theatre of Louisville, for which he wrote the first of three plays, “Spades,” “Sidekick” and “Semper Fi.” The finalist of the theater's national Great American Play Contest also continued writing for film journals and was hired by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures magazine “Films in Review” as their columnist, critic and feature writer for several years.
Beaver worked steadily on stage in 1979 when he relocated to New York City. He headlined such plays as John Patrick's melodramatic play “The Hasty Heart” and N. Richard Nash's 1950s play “The Rainmaker” in Birmingham, Alabama, and “The Lark” in Manchester, New Hampshire. He also toured the country in “The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia” and as Macduff the Thane of Fife in William Shakespeare's tragedy “Macbeth.” Meanwhile, he also wrote plays and researched a biography of actor George Reeves as well as served as a ghostwriter for critic Steven Scheuer for the book “Movie Blockbusters.”
While in Los Angeles, Beaver joined the prestigious Theater West Company in Hollywood. He was signed by the powerful Triad Artists agency and soon found himself writing episodes of different television series, including four episodes (1986-1987) of CBS' anthology series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” which earned him a 1987 CableACE Award nomination, a January 1988 episode of CBS’ Vietnam war drama “Tour of Duty” and several 1987 episodes of the anthology series “Vietnam War Story.”
During that time, Beaver also appeared occasionally in small roles in television, including on CBS’ crime-drama series “Jake and the Fatman” (1987), NBC’s long running legal drama “Matlock” and in films like the 12-minute “File 8022” (1985) and the independent “Sweet Revenge” (1987; starring Martin Landau and Gina Gershon; Beaver also wrote additional dialogue). He was seen in Robert Townsend's comedy “Hollywood Shuffle” (1987), Stephen Tobolowsky's independent adaptation of his own musical/comedy play, “Two Idiots in Hollywood” (1988), and the indie action/drama “Defense Play” (1988).
Beaver was cast as Bruce Willis' best buddy in Norman Jewison's dramatic film based on Bobbie Ann Mason's novel, “In Country” (1989). He subsequently received roles in such popular films as Emile Ardolino's comedy movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, “Sister Act” (1992), Phillip Noyce's adaptation of Ira Levin's novel, “Sliver” (1993; starring Sharon Stone, William Baldwin and Tom Berenger) and Jonathan Kaplan's Western movie “Bad Girls” (1994; starring Madeleine Stowe, Mary Stuart Masterson, Andie MacDowell and Drew Barrymore). He was also cast in writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson's Oscar nominated drama “Magnolia” (1999), Spike Jonze's Oscar winning version of Susan Orlean's book, “Adaptation,” (2002; starring Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper) and Alan Parker's drama/thriller “The Life of David Gale” (2003; starring Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet and Laura Linney).
Meanwhile, TV audiences could catch him as Mark Harmon's friend and homicide detective partner Earl Gaddis (1991) on NBC's cop drama series “Reasonable Doubts” and as Father Timothy Jansen (1996-2003) on NBC’s soap opera "Days of our Lives." He also played Leland DuParte, Ed Asner's humorous sidekick, in the sitcom "Thunder Alley" (1994-1995) and French Stewart's bad-tempered boss (1998-1999) on NBC's sitcom “3rd Rock from the Sun.”
From 2004 to 2006, Beaver garnered broader recognition as experienced prospector Whitney Ellsworth, the husband of Molly Parker's Alma Garret, on HBO’s ensemble Western drama series “Deadwood.” Along with the show's cast members, Beaver later received a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
During that time, he resumed his long research for the Reeves biography and eventually served as the historical/biographical consultant on the biopic/docudrama feature film about Reeves' death directed by Allen Coulter, “Hollywoodland,” with Ben Affleck portraying the original Superman.
On stage, Beaver portrayed Major/Freddie in the "Good" play by C.P. Taylor at the Theatre West, in Los Angeles, California, in June 1998 and appeared in a production of "Mockingbird" (2003) and "Night Riders" (2005). From January to April 2006, he portrayed Henry II of England in Theatre West’s stage production of "The Lion in Winter" in Los Angeles.
After his contract with “Deadwood” ended in 2006, Beaver appeared in an episode of CBS' action-drama series "The Unit" and in two episodes of the popular Emmy-winning CBS series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." He also became a supporting cast member on the WB/CW paranormal drama series "Supernatural," as hunter Bobby Singer (2006-Present).
During his "Supernatural" stint, Beaver also had a recurring role as Carter Reese on HBO’s drama series "Big Love" and was a supporting cast member on ABC's series "Day Break," as Nick Vukovic (2007), a retired cop and former partner of Brett's (played by Taye Diggs) father. He currently stars as Vietnam Joe, a war veteran who occasionally sneaks illegal immigrants into the country, on HBO's drama series "John From Cincinnati," which premiered on June 10, 2007.
More recently, moviegoers could watch him supporting Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel in Lee Tamahori's film loosely based on the sci-fi short story "The Golden Man" by Philip K. Dick, “Next” (2007). He has completed his upcoming film, “Cooties,” a comedy by Michael A. Allowitz in which he will play the lead role.