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American Actor – James Denton
James Denton, born January 20, 1963 in Nashville, Tennessee, is an American actor. He is famous for playing the role of Mike Delfino on ABC’s TV series Desperate Housewives.
The second of three children born to a dentist and his wife in Nashville, Tennessee, Denton attended Goodlettsville High School, played basketball at a junior college for a while, then went on to graduate with honors from the (national champion) University of Tennessee at Knoxville, snagging a degree in advertising as a television/journalism major on the way out the door.
Even though his father was involved in community theater, Jamie didn’t jump in until he was 23, during the bicentennial in Nashville, Tennessee. His role as “George Gibbs” in a production of “Our Town” turned out to be only the first in a long line of plays that he would do, first in Nashville and then later in North Carolina, Chicago and California.
Although he spent the next four years selling advertising for two radio stations and then for the CBS affiliate in Nashville, Jamie’s heart was already in another place, and after a short stint in North Carolina, he headed to Chicago to try his hand at acting full-time.
In Chicago, his first role was as “Stanley” in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and his last was as the terrorist “Bebert” in the French farce “Lapin Lapin”. In the years that came between the two, JD was a company member at The Griffin Theater and at Strawdog Theater Ensemble. He added a steady string of roles and accolades to his quickly growing list of achievements, including one of the leads in the world premiere of “Flesh and Blood”, performing in and composing the music for “the Night Hank Williams Died”, and his portrayal of Kentucky preacher “C.C. Showers” in “The Diviners” – which gained him a nomination for a Best Actor “Joseph Jefferson Award” (Chicago’s only theater award).
A small part in “The Untouchables” (the series, not the movie) was followed by guest roles on “Sliders” and “Dark Skies”. Jamie did a guest spot on “Moloney”, made the 1997 pilot for “LA Med”, and then filmed three movies (“That Old Feeling”, “Face/Off” and “Primary Colors”) in quick succession.
In 1997, Jamie got called to read for a role in a TV show called “the Pretender”. He auditioned for it, literally, on his way home from LAX – after returning from a trip to promote “That Old Feeling”, which had just been released on video. JD showed up for the audition with no idea what the producers wanted, flying blind. As he was leaving the audition, they called him back and said, “A little more Jimmy Stewart.” Jamie had the offer to play the “possible recurring” part of “Mr. Lyle” before he even reached home.
A pilot for his own series, called “The Hanleys,” made with an incredible cast that included Barry Corbin (from Northern Exposure) and Rosemarie, proved to be incredible in another aspect when, at the last minute, ABC opted instead to air something more “hip and urban” in its place and shelved the would-be series. Undaunted, Jamie set aside thoughts of the small town veterinarian that he thought he’d be portraying during the next season, and instead continued producing chilling portrayals as Mr. Lyle in NBC’s “the Pretender”.
Summer of 1999 found Jamie heading back to the theater, starring in the world premiere of the play, “In Walked Monk”. It was still running when “the Pretender” came “off the bubble” and was renewed, allowing production for the 4th season to begin. For the first month of production, twice a week, Jamie played two completely different roles within a twenty-four hour period … portraying the sociopathic “Mr. Lyle” on the set of “the Pretender” by day, then hurrying to the theater to play the mild-mannered “Steven” on stage in the evening.
When a largely “Lyle-less” 4th season on “the Pretender” left him with too much free time on his hands, Jamie kept himself busy by adding two more guest starring roles to his credits … one that showed his ability to shine in a comedic role on “Two Guys and a Girl” and another on “Ally McBeal”.
With “the Pretender” again teetering on the brink of cancellation, Denton once more turned his considerable energy toward the stage and the theater, taking on the very physical role of “Inmate #1” in The Court Theater’s production of “Asylum”. When NBC decided that there would be no 5th season for “the Pretender”, Jamie landed a guest spot on the incredibly popular “West Wing”, then went to Canada to film “Pretender 2001” and “Pretender: The Island Of The Haunted” (both of which were two-hour movies that TNT produced after NBC finally cancelled the show).
2001 found Jamie back at ABC after Steven Bochco cast him as “Judge Augustus “Jack” Ripley,” in his struggling new series, “Philly”. Viewers liked “Judge Ripley” and hopes were high that the sizzling on-screen chemistry between Jamie’s character and the one portrayed by Kim Delaney would convince ABC to give the show another season to improve its ratings. Ironically, Jamie was in Australia, promoting Philly, when he received word that ABC had passed on renewing the show for a second season. Jamie ended 2002 with a two-part guest starring role on “The Drew Carey Show”.
Jamie returned as a guest star on “JAG” in 2003, and the pilot season landed him the opportunity to once again head up the cast of an ABC series, in “Threat Matrix”, a Touchstone production offering up fictionalized events relating to terrorist activity around the world. Jamie played “John Kilmer”, the man who lead the ultra-covert team of anti-terrorist specialists and who answered solely to the President of the United States. The timely and serious role also gave Jamie the opportunity to change his professional billing from “Jamie Denton” to “James Denton.” Only days before the annual “upfronts” in New York, where the major networks announce their new fall season line-ups, ABC picked up the show for September, 2003.
Although “Threat Matrix” held its own in one of the worst time-slots of the season (sandwiched between the last season of “Friends” and “Survivor”), ABC nonetheless pulled the series after only fourteen episodes aired (sixteen episodes were filmed). “Threat Matrix” was officially cancelled on the same day as Jamie’s role as “Mike Delfino” on “Desperate Housewives”, a new ABC series scheduled for the Fall, was announced at the 2004 upfronts in New York.
On October 3, 2004, “Desperate Housewives” garnered incredible ratings with its debut episode and ABC picked up the rest of the first season before the end of the month. Within three months of the premiere episode of “Desperate Housewives,” Jamie was included in People Magazine’s 2004 “Sexiest Men Alive” issue.
During the first and second seasons of “Desperate Housewives” Jamie managed to schedule a sweeps week guest star spot on “Reba” and toward the end of the second season, played the role of “Brother John Brown” in “3/5 of a Man.” While on hiatus, between the second and third seasons, Jamie teamed up with Chris Kattan in the film, “Wanted: Undead or Alive.”
Jamie resides in Southern California with his wife and two children. He’s a sports fan, with baseball and basketball (he still plays both, whenever he can) edging out the rest, if he’s pressed to choose a favorite. He loves animals and supports rescue efforts on the front-line, by taking strays off the streets and finding them good homes. Jamie has also been a big brother/mentor and continues to lend his name and contribute his time to other causes close to his heart.