(written from a Production point of view)
Jim Beaver (born 12 August 1950; age 70) is an American actor who portrayed Admiral Daniel Leonard in the Star Trek: Enterprise first season episode "Broken Bow". He is perhaps best recognized for his role as prospector Ellsworth on the HBO western series Deadwood and Bobby Singer in Supernatural. In addition to acting, he is a playwright and screenwriter, as well as a film historian.
He was born James Norman Beaver, Jr. in Laramie, Wyoming, and raised in Irving, Texas. Less than two weeks after graduating from Fort Worth Christian Academy in 1968, Beaver enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Trained as a microwave radio relay technician, he began serving as a radio operator in the 1st Marine Regiment near Da Nang, South Vietnam in 1970 and later became supply chief for the division communications company. He was released from active duty as a Corporal after returning to America in 1971, but remained an active member of the Marine Reserve until 1976.
Following his military service, Beaver attended college at the Central State University (now known as the University of Central Oklahoma) in Edmond, Oklahoma. It was here that he began studying acting and theater. Soon after transferring to Central State University (now the University of Central Oklahoma) in 1972, he made his professional stage acting debut in a production of W. Somerset Maugham's Rain at the Oklahoma Theatre Center in Oklahoma City. He also wrote several plays and even a book on actor John Garfield.
In 1973, Beaver married a fellow college student, Debbie Young, in August, 1973. However, they separated four months later and divorced in 1976.
After graduating with a degree in Oral Communications in 1975, Beaver returned to Irving, Texas, and continued to act in and write plays. He ultimately broke into film and television, accumulating well over 100 appearances in those mediums. This is in addition to his stage acting, playwriting, and screenwriting, as well as his work as a film historian, columnist, and critic.
Beaver was the husband of the late Cecily Adams, the actress and casting director who played Ishka on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The two married in 1989 and their daughter, Madeline, was born in 2001. Tragically, Adams died of lung cancer just three years later.
Writing and stage acting
Having returned to Texas after graduating college, Beaver performed in a number of productions for the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas, starting in 1976. In 1979, the Actors Theatre of Louisville commissioned Beaver to write the play Spades for their company. They would later ask him to write two more, Sidekick and Semper Fi. Later, Beaver was twice named a finalist in the Actors Theatre's national Great American Play Contest for his original plays Once Upon a Single Bound and Verdigris.
After moving to New York City in 1979, Beaver toured the country, performing in productions of such plays as The Hasty Heart, The Rainmaker, and Macbeth. In 1983, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he began working more in film and television.
In 1985, his play, Verdigris was produced to critical praise. Beaver then began writing television scripts, most notably for the anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Beaver was nominated for a CableACE Award for co-writing an episode of this series called "The Initiation," which was directed by Robert Iscove. After the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike, Beaver stopped writing for television altogether and focused on acting.
Beaver continues to write plays and books. His more recent plays include 2001's Mockingbird and 2006's Night Riders. He also wrote a memoir entitled Life's That Way on his late wife, Cecily Adams, and the year following her diagnosis of lung cancer in 2003.
A long-term project that Beaver has been working on is a biography of actor George Reeves, for which he has been researching since the late 1970s. In 2005, he was brought in as a biographical consultant on the film Hollywoodland, a drama about Reeves' death.
Beaver made his feature film debut in 1977 with an uncredited role in the comedy Semi-Tough. His film acting credits during the 1980s include the 1983 Academy Award-nominated drama Silkwood (also featuring Bill Cobbs, Graham Jarvis, and Bruce McGill) and the 1988 comedy Turner & Hooch (co-starring Clyde Kusatsu). In both of these films, Beaver played the role of a plant manager.
He had a supporting role in the 1989 film In Country, a drama about Vietnam veterans in which Beaver portrayed the best friend of the lead character (played by Bruce Willis). Interestingly, Beaver was the only actual Vietnam veteran in the film's principal cast.
Beaver has since appeared in such films as Sister Act (starring Whoopi Goldberg), Sliver (from Paramount Pictures), Bad Girls, Wounded (co-starring Mädchen Amick and Robert Costanzo), Magnolia (featuring Henry Gibson, Pat Healy, Don McManus, and Michael Shamus Wiles, with cinematography by Robert Elswit), Joy Ride (produced by J.J. Abrams and co-starring James MacDonald and Dell Yount), Wheelmen (with James Avery), and The Life of David Gale (co-starring Leon Rippy). He also had supporting roles in two films starring Nicolas Cage, 2002's Adaptation and 2007's Next.
Beaver has made single appearances on numerous television shows. These include Father Dowling Mysteries (in an episode with David Warner), Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (starring K Callan and Teri Hatcher), Home Improvement (in an episode with Janet MacLachlan), NYPD Blue (starring Gordon Clapp and Sharon Lawrence, in an episode with Lenore Kasdorf and Tony Todd), Melrose Place (in an episode directed by Charles Correll and co-starring Celeste Yarnall), The X-Files (in an episode directed by Kim Manners), That 70's Show (starring Kurtwood Smith and Don Stark), The West Wing (with Glenn Morshower), Philly (with Bill Cobbs, Alan Dale, Michael Durrell, Deborah Lacey, Kristanna Loken, Cristine Rose, and Cress Williams), Six Feet Under (with James Cromwell), The Lyon's Den (with Gregory Itzin and Robert Picardo), Monk (with Michael Ensign), The Unit (starring Abby Brammell), and Psych (starring Corbin Bernsen).
In addition, Beaver co-starred with Robert Beltran, John Glover and Branscombe Richmond in the 1990 TV movie El Diablo. In 1998, Beaver appeared with fellow Star Trek alumni K Callan, Charles Emmett, Don McManus, Stephanie Niznik, Richard Riehle, Bill Smitrovich, Barbara Tarbuck, Julie Warner and Dell Yount in the two-part 1998 TV movie Mr. Murder.
Regular and recurring roles
Beaver has made regular appearances on several television shows over the years. In the early 1990s he played homicide detective Earl Gaddis on the NBC drama Reasonable Doubts. During the 1994-1995 TV season, he starred as the comic sidekick to Edward Asner in the ABC sitcom Thunder Alley. Beaver also starred in the short-lived ABC series The Trouble with Normal and had recurring roles on the soap operas The Young & the Restless and Days of Our Lives.
He had a recurring role on 3rd Rock from the Sun as Happy Doug, the owner of the bar which the characters of that series often frequented in the later seasons. Beaver's late wife and fellow Trek alum, Cecily Adams, was the casting director for the series at the time.
Perhaps Beaver's most famous role is that of prospector Whitney Ellsworth on the HBO series Deadwood, on which he starred from 2004 through 2006. His many co-stars on this series included fellow Trek veterans Keith Carradine, Larry Cedar, Dennis Christopher, Brad Dourif, Zach Grenier, Alice Krige, Paula Malcomson, Leon Rippy, Titus Welliver and Keone Young. In 2007, Beaver and many of his Deadwood castmates were nominated for an award as Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series by the Screen Actors Guild.
Beaver followed Deadwood with a recurring role on the short-lived ABC series Day Break and a regular role on another HBO series, John from Cincinnati. Among his co-stars on the latter series were Willie Garson, Bruce Greenwood, and Matt Winston. In 2006, Beaver played assaulted tourist Stanley Tanner on two episodes of CSI. He worked with Wallace Langham in both episodes.
Beaver currently has a recurring role as Bobby Singer on the CW series Supernatural. He has been appearing on this series since 2006; two of Singer's recurring demonic antagonists are played by Matt Frewer and Mark A. Sheppard. One of the directors and producers of Supernatural was Kim Manners, who worked on the series from 2005 until his death in 2009. Beaver called Manners "one of the best friends and best directors" he had ever known.
In 2009, Beaver played Sheriff Charlie Mills on the CBS limited series Harper's Island. In this series, one or more characters are killed in each episode, with all answers being revealed in the thirteenth and final episode. James Whitmore, Jr., directed the sixth episode of this series; Beaver's character lasted four more episodes before being killed.