Jim Beaver

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jim Beaver
Beaver in May 2015
James Norman Beaver Jr.

(1950-08-12) August 12, 1950 (age 73)
  • Actor
  • writer
  • film historian
Years active1972–present
Debbie Young
(m. 1973; div. 1976)
(m. 1989; died 2004)
(m. 2019⁠–⁠2024)

James Norman Beaver Jr. (born August 12, 1950) is an American actor, writer, and film historian. He is most familiar to worldwide audiences as Bobby Singer in Supernatural. He also played Whitney Ellsworth on the HBO Western drama series Deadwood, which brought him acclaim and a Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination for Ensemble Acting, and Sheriff Shelby Parlow on the FX series Justified. His memoir Life's That Way was published in April 2009.[1]

Early life[edit]

Beaver was born in Laramie, Wyoming, the son of Dorothy Adell (née Crawford) (1928-2019) and James Norman Beaver (1924–2004), a minister.[2] His father was of English and French heritage; the family name was originally de Beauvoir, and Beaver is a distant cousin of author and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir and Pennsylvania governor General James A. Beaver.[3] Beaver's mother has Cherokee, German, and Scottish ancestry, and is a descendant of three-time U.S. Attorney General John J. Crittenden.[4]

Although his parents' families had both long been in Texas, Beaver was born in Laramie, as his father was doing graduate work in accounting at the University of Wyoming.[5] Returning to Texas, Beaver Sr. worked as an accountant and as a minister for the Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Crowley, Dallas, and Grapevine. For most of Beaver's youth, his family lived in Irving, Texas, even while his father preached in surrounding communities.[6] He and his three younger sisters (Denise, Reneé, and Teddlie) all attended Irving High School, where he was a classmate of ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard,[7] but he transferred in his senior year to Fort Worth Christian Academy, from which he graduated in 1968. He also took courses at Fort Worth Christian College. Later, he attended Oklahoma Christian College. Despite having appeared in some elementary school plays, he showed no particular interest in an acting career, but immersed himself in film history and expressed a desire for a career as a writer, publishing a few short stories in his high school anthology.[8]

Military service and education[edit]

Fewer than two months after his graduation from high school, Beaver followed several of his close friends into the United States Marine Corps. Following basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Beaver was trained there as a microwave radio relay technician. He served at Marine Corps Base Twentynine Palms and at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton before being transferred to the 1st Marine Division near Da Nang, South Vietnam in 1970. He served as a radio operator at an outlying detachment of the 1st Marine Regiment, then as supply chief for the division communications company. He returned to the U.S. in 1971 and was discharged as a Corporal (E-4), though he remained active in the Marine Reserve until 1976.

Upon his release from active duty in 1971, Beaver returned to Irving, and worked briefly for Frito-Lay as a corn-chip dough mixer. He entered what is now Oklahoma Christian University, where he became interested in theatre. He made his true theatrical debut in a small part in The Miracle Worker. The following year, he transferred to Central State University (now known as the University of Central Oklahoma). He performed in numerous plays in college and supported himself as a cabdriver, a movie projectionist, a tennis-club maintenance man, and an amusement-park stuntman at Frontier City. He also worked as a newscaster and hosted jazz and classical music programs on radio station KCSC. During his college days, he also began to write, completing several plays as well as his first book, on actor John Garfield, while still a student. Beaver graduated with a degree in oral communications in 1975.[9] He briefly pursued graduate studies, but soon returned to Irving, Texas.


Beaver as his Whitney Ellsworth character in Deadwood

Beaver made his professional stage debut in October 1972, while still a college student, in Rain, from W. Somerset Maugham's short story, at the Oklahoma Theatre Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. After returning to Texas, he performed extensively in local theatre in the Dallas area, supporting himself as a film cleaner at a 16 mm film rental firm and as a stagehand for the Dallas Ballet. He joined the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas in 1976, performing in numerous productions. In 1979, he was commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville to write the first of three plays for that company (Spades, Sidekick and Semper Fi), and was twice a finalist in the theatre's national Great American Play Contest (for Once Upon a Single Bound and Verdigris). Along with plays, he continued writing for film journals and for several years was a columnist, critic, and feature writer for the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures magazine Films in Review.

Moving to New York City in 1979, Beaver worked steadily onstage in stock and on tour, simultaneously writing plays and researching a biography of actor George Reeves. He continues to pursue this project between acting jobs. He appeared in starring roles in such plays as The Hasty Heart and The Rainmaker in Birmingham, Alabama, and The Lark in Manchester, New Hampshire, and toured the country as Macduff in Macbeth and in The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia. During this period, he ghostwrote the book Movie Blockbusters for critic Steven Scheuer.

In 1983, he moved to Los Angeles, California, to continue research on his biography of George Reeves. He worked for a year as the film archivist for the Variety Arts Center. Following a reading of his play Verdigris, he was asked to join the prestigious Theatre West company in Hollywood, where he continues as an actor and playwright to this day. Verdigris was produced to positive reviews in 1985 and Beaver was signed by the Triad Artists agency. He immediately began to work writing episodes of television series including Alfred Hitchcock Presents (he received a 1987 CableACE Award nomination for his very first TV script for this show), Tour of Duty and Vietnam War Story. He also worked occasionally in small roles in films and television.

The 1988 Writers Guild of America strike fundamentally altered the freelance television writing market, and Beaver's television writing career came to an abrupt halt. A chance meeting led to his being cast as the best friend of star Bruce Willis in Norman Jewison's drama about Vietnam veterans, In Country, and his acting career began flourishing where his writing career had faltered. Beaver was the only actual Vietnam veteran among the principal cast of In Country.

Subsequently, he has appeared in many popular films, including Sister Act, Sliver, Bad Girls, Adaptation., Magnolia and The Life of David Gale. He starred in the television series Thunder Alley as the comic sidekick to Ed Asner, and as homicide cop Earl Gaddis on Reasonable Doubts. He was also French Stewart's sullen boss Happy Doug on the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun.

In 2002, Beaver was cast as one of the stars of the ensemble Western drama Deadwood in the role of Whitney Ellsworth, a goldminer whom he often described as "Gabby Hayes with Tourette syndrome".[10] Ellsworth went from being a filth-covered reprobate to marrying the richest woman in town and becoming a beloved and stalwart figure in the community. Originally Ellsworth did not have a first name, but when it became necessary to provide one, Beaver requested he be named Whitney Ellsworth, after the producer of George Reeves's Adventures of Superman. He continued his long research for the Reeves biography, and in 2005 served as the historical and biographical consultant on the theatrical feature film about Reeves's death, Hollywoodland.

Beaver joined the cast of the HBO drama John from Cincinnati in 2006, while simultaneously playing the recurring roles of Bobby Singer on Supernatural and Carter Reese on another HBO drama Big Love, appearing at least once a season on Supernatural.[11] He then took on the role of Sheriff Charlie Mills in the CBS drama Harper's Island. He recurred as the gun dealer Lawson on Breaking Bad and its prequel Better Call Saul, and played Sheriff Shelby Parlow for three seasons on FX's Justified.

Following his acclaimed work in Justified, Beaver had a starring role in Guillermo del Toro's gothic ghost story feature film, Crimson Peak, in a part del Toro wrote for him. He also had roles in the feature films The Frontier and Billy Boy.

His memoir about the year after his wife's 2003 lung cancer diagnosis, titled Life's That Way, was purchased in a preemptive bid by Putnam/Penguin publishers in the fall of 2007.[12] Prior to publication in April, 2009, it was chosen for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program for 2009.[1]

His performance in The Silence of Bees won him the Best Actor Award at the 2010 New York Film and Video Festival.[13]

Beaver was nominated for Best Guest Performance in a Drama by the Broadcast Television Journalists' Association Critics' Choice Awards in 2013, for his performance as Sheriff Shelby Parlow on Justified.

He wrote and directed the short film Night Riders (2013), based upon his play of the same title.

In 2014, he was given the Lifetime Merit Award of the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema.[14]

Beaver studied acting with Clyde Ventura and Academy Award-winning actor Maximilian Schell.[15]

In March 2015, Theatre West presented a 30th anniversary revival of Beaver's play Verdigris, with Beaver in a starring role.

Actress Maureen Stapleton played the leading role in a workshop of Beaver's play Verdigris in 1985 at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. In June, 2016, Beaver returned to the Festival to play Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.[16]

Since 2018, Beaver has portrayed Secretary of Defense (and U.S. presidential candidate) Robert Singer on the Amazon series The Boys, produced by Eric Kripke, creator of Supernatural. Beaver's characters on The Boys and Supernatural share the same name.[17]

In March 2023, he reprised his role as Bobby Singer in The Winchesters spinoff series.

Beaver was awarded the 2023 Soaring Talent Award for Career Achievement by the Tallgrass Film Festival.[18]

Personal life[edit]

For several years after his 1983 move to California, Beaver shared a house with character actor Hank Worden, whom he considered a close friend and surrogate grandfather. He became friends with Worden as a child, after writing him a fan letter that sparked a lengthy correspondence between them.[19]

During college, Beaver married a fellow student, Debbie Young, in August 1973. They separated four months later but did not divorce until 1976.

In 1989, after four years of dating, Beaver married actress and casting director Cecily Adams, daughter of comic actor and voiceover artist Don Adams. Their daughter was born in 2001. Adams, though a non-smoker, died of lung cancer on March 3, 2004.[15]

Beaver began a relationship in 2016 with actress and singer Sarah Spiegel. They were married on June 20, 2019.[20] Beaver filed for divorce from Spiegel on August 24, 2022, citing "irreconcilable differences." His divorce was final on January 23, 2024.[21]



Year Title Role Notes
1977 Semi-Tough B.E.A.T. Member Uncredited
1978 The Seniors Client Uncredited
1979 Warnings The Artist Short film
1981 Nighthawks Subway Passenger Uncredited
1983 Girls of the White Orchid Pedestrian Uncredited; alternative title Death Ride to Osaka
Silkwood Plant Manager Uncredited
1985 File 8022 Ben Crysler
1987 Sweet Revenge Smuggler Uncredited
Hollywood Shuffle Postal Worker
1988 Two Idiots in Hollywood Crying Man
Defense Play FBI Agent
1989 Mergers & Acquisitions Gabby Hayes Short film
Turner & Hooch Plant Manager
The Cherry The Captain Short film
In Country Earl Smith
1990 El Diablo Spivey Irick
The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson Major Trimble
1991 Little Secrets Liquor Store Cashier Credited as Richard Muldoon
1992 Sister Act Detective Clarkson
1993 Sliver Detective Ira
Geronimo: An American Legend Proclamation Officer
1994 Twogether Oscar
Blue Chips Ricky's Father
Children of the Dark Roddy Gibbons Deliberately uncredited[citation needed]
Bad Girls Pinkerton Detective Graves
1997 Wounded Agent Eric Ashton
1998 At Sachem Farm Foreman
1999 Impala Sheriff Bert Davis Short film
Ah! Silenciosa Ambrose Bierce Short film
Magnolia Smiling Peanut Patron #1
2000 Fraud Detective Mason Short film
Where the Heart Is 'Clawhammer' Scenes deleted
2001 Joy Ride Sheriff Ritter
2002 Wheelmen Agent Hammond
Adaptation. Ranger Tony
2003 The Life of David Gale Duke Grover
Wave Babes Amos Nandy
The Commission Howard L. Brennan
2007 Next FBI Director Wisdom
Cooties The Man Short film
2008 Reflections Frank Short film
The Silence of Bees Parker Lam Short film
2009 Dark and Stormy Night Jack Tugdon
2011 The Legend of Hell's Gate: An American Conspiracy J. Wright Mooar
2013 Night Riders Short film; writer, director, executive producer
2015 The Frontier Lee
Crimson Peak Carter Cushing
2017 Billy Boy Crabtree
Remember The Sultana Joseph Taylor Elliott / First Engineering Officer Nathaniel Wintringer
2021 Nightmare Alley Sheriff Jedediah Judd


Year Title Role Notes
1978 Desperado Nathan TV film
1978–1979 Dallas Diner / Julie's Gardener 2 episodes
1979 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Cowboy Player TV film
1986 Divorce Court Wrench McCoy
1987 Jake and the Fatman Defense Attorney Episode: "Fatal Attraction"
1988 Matlock Barney Sutler Episode: "The Umpire"
Paradise Frank Foster Episode: "The Holstered Gun"
Perry Mason: The Case of the Lady in the Lake Motel Manager TV film
1989 CBS Summer Playhouse Wrong House Neighbor Episode: "Elysian Fields"
The Young Riders Johnson Episode: "The Kid"
Mothers, Daughters and Lovers Sheriff Jack Edzard TV film
1990 Follow Your Heart Craig Hraboy TV film
Midnight Caller Tom Barlow Episode: "Ryder on the Storm"
Nasty Boys Wetstone Episode: "Desert Run"
Father Dowling Mysteries Drake Episode: "The Murder Weekend Mystery"
1991–1993 Santa Barbara Andy, The Rapist / Motel Man 5 episodes
Reasonable Doubts Detective Earl Gaddis 13 episodes
1992 Gunsmoke: To the Last Man Deputy Willie Rudd TV film
1993 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Henry Barnes Episode: "I'm Looking Through You"
Gunsmoke: The Long Ride Traveling blacksmith TV film
1994-1995 Thunder Alley Leland DuParte 28 episodes
1995 Home Improvement Duke Miller Episode: "Doctor in the House"
Unsolved Mysteries Himself Episode: "Who Killed Superman?"
1996 High Incident Father In Wreck Episode: "Women & Children First"
1996–1997 Murder One Donald Cleary 2 episodes
1996 Bone Chillers Edgar Allan Poe Episode: "Edgar Allan Poe-Session"
1996–2004 Days of Our Lives Father Timothy Jansen 26 episodes
1997 NYPD Blue Truck Driver / Jesus Christ Episode: "Taillight's Last Gleaming"
Moloney Detective Ashton Episode: "The Ripple Effect"
Spy Game Thornbush Episode: "Lorne and Max Drop the Ball"
Total Security Detective McKissick Episode: "Das Bootie"
Divided by Hate Danny Leland TV film
1998 Melrose Place Ranger Virgil Episode: "Amanda's Back"
Pensacola: Wings of Gold Actor Episode: "Power Play"
Mr. Murder Agent Jason Reiling TV film
1998–1999 E! Mysteries & Scandals Himself 2 episodes
3rd Rock from the Sun Doug 'Happy Doug' 7 episodes
1999 The X-Files Coroner Episode: "Field Trip"
2000 Biography Himself Episode: "George Reeves: The Perils of a Superhero"
The Trouble with Normal Gary 8 episodes
2001 That '70s Show Tony Episode: "Who Wants It More?"
The Division Fred Zito Episode: "High on the Hog"
Star Trek: Enterprise Admiral Daniel Leonard Episode: "Broken Bow: Part 1"
The West Wing Carl Episode: "Manchester: Part 1"
Philly Nelson Vanderhoff Episode: "Loving Sons"
Warden of Red Rock Jefferson Bent TV film
2003 Andy Richter Controls the Universe Craig Episode: "Charity Begins in Cellblock D"
Six Feet Under Prison Officer Episode: "Twilight"
Tremors Sheriff Sam Boggs Episode: "Water Hazard"
The Lyon's Den Hank Ferris Episode: "The Other Side of Caution"
2004 Monk Sheriff Mathis Episode: "Mr. Monk Gets Married"
Crossing Jordan Ranger Diggory Episode: "Revealed"
2004–2006 Deadwood Whitney Ellsworth 28 episodes
2006 The Unit Lloyd Cole Episode: "Manhunt"
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Stanley Tanner 2 episodes
2006–2020 Supernatural Bobby Singer 69 episodes
2007 Day Break Nick 'Uncle Nick' Vukovic 5 episodes
John from Cincinnati Joe 'Vietnam Joe' 8 episodes
Big Love Carter Reese 3 episodes
Criminal Minds Sheriff Williams Episode: "Identify"
2009 Harper's Island Sheriff Charlie Mills 11 episodes
Psych Pete 'Stinky Pete' Dillingham Episode: "High Noon-ish"
2010 Law & Order: Los Angeles Frank Loomis Episode: "Hollywood"
The Mentalist Cobb Holwell Episode: "The Red Ponies"
Lie to Me Gus Episode: "Veronica"
Love Bites Trucker Episode: "Keep On Truckin'"
2011–2012 Breaking Bad Lawson 2 episodes
2011–2013 Justified Sheriff Shelby Parlow 14 episodes
2012 Dexter[22] Clint McKay Episode: "The Dark...Whatever"
2013 The Middle Mr. Stokes Episode: "Dollar Days"
Mike & Molly Dwight 2 episodes
Longmire Lee Roskey Episode: "Natural Order"
Revolution John Franklin Fry 2 episodes
2014 Major Crimes Donald Beckwith Episode: "Return to Sender Part 2"
NCIS Captain Tom O'Rourke Episode: "The San Dominick"
2015–2017 The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy George Darling Web series
2016 Better Call Saul Lawson 2 episodes;
Same character from Breaking Bad
Bones George Gibbons Episode: "The Monster in the Closet"
2017 NCIS: New Orleans Jackson Hauser, Rig Manager Episode: "Hell on the High Water"
Timeless Jake Neville 3 episodes
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders Donald Atwood Episode: "Blowback"
Shut Eye Bob Caygeon 2 episodes
2017–2019 The Ranch Chuck Phillips 12 episodes
2019–present The Boys Robert "Dakota Bob" Shaefer 6 episodes
2019 Watchmen Andy Episode: "Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship"
2020 Young Sheldon Kenneth Episode: "Contracts, Rules and a Little Bit of Pig Brains"
2021 B Positive Spencer Williams Recurring role; 14 episodes
2023 The Winchesters Bobby Singer Episode: "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye"
Same character from Supernatural
2024 Outer Range Mr. Farber Episode: "Ode to Joy"


Year Title Role Notes
2021 Vought News Network: Seven on 7 with Cameron Coleman Robert "Dakota Bob" Singer (voice) Guest role; web series promoting The Boys

Literary works[edit]


  • John Garfield: His Life and Films (1978)
  • Movie Blockbusters (with Steven Scheuer) (1982, revised edition 1983)
  • Life's That Way: A Memoir (2009)


  • The Afternoon Blood Show, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, April 29, 1981
  • Blood Show, Nawyecka Productions, 2024. (A revision of the story The Afternoon Blood Show)


  • The Cop and the Anthem (adapted from the short story by O. Henry) (1973)[23]
  • Once Upon a Single Bound (1974)[23]
  • As You Like It, or Anything You Want To, Also Known as Rotterdam and Parmesan Are Dead (1975)[23]
  • The Ox-Bow Incident (adapted from the novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark) (1978)[23]
  • Spades (1979)[23]
  • Sidekick (1981)[23]
  • Semper Fi (1984)[23]
  • Verdigris (1985)[23]
  • Truth, Justice, and the Texican Way (1986)[23]
  • Pressing Engagements (1990)[23]
  • Mockingbird (2003)[23]
  • Night Riders (2006)[24]
  • The American Way (2011)[24]
  • Whigs, Pigs, and Greyhounds (2011)[24]
  • Lettering (2013)[24]

Magazine articles[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Life's That Way - Home". lifesthatway.com. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Jim Beaver Biography (1950-)". filmreference.com. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  3. ^ Beaver, Irvin, History and genealogy of the Bieber, Beaver, Biever, Beeber family, Higginson Book Co., 2003, ASIN B0006S644M
  4. ^ Coleman, Mrs. Chapman, The Life of John J. Crittenden, Da Capo Press, 1970, ISBN 0-306-71843-X
  5. ^ Wyo, 1951, Laramie: University of Wyoming, 1951, p. 60
  6. ^ Beaver, Jim, Life's That Way, New York: Penguin/Putnam, 2009
  7. ^ Stoddard, Carol, #Throwback Thursday: Famous People from Irving, https://www.irvingtexas.com/blog/list/post/throwback-thursday-famous-people-from-irving/, retrieved July 6, 2022
  8. ^ Scholar's Annual of Arts, Irving: Irving High School Journalism Department, 1966
  9. ^ Author dust jacket bio, Beaver, James N., John Garfield: His Life and Films, Cranbury NJ: A.S. Barnes & Co., 1978, ISBN 0-498-01890-3
  10. ^ "RARA-AVIS Archives: Re: RARA-AVIS: RE: Deadwood". miskatonic.org. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Some Hints of What's Coming in Supernatural Season Six". dreadcentral.com. 17 July 2010. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  12. ^ "article". publishersweekly.com. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  13. ^ Nyfilmvideo.info; Archived at: Archived May 18, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Idyllwildcinemafest.com". Archived from the original on 2014-03-20. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  15. ^ a b "Jim Beaver: HBO: Deadwood". Archived from the original on 2010-01-09. Retrieved 2007-03-11.
  16. ^ "John Gray's Fade to Gray column: Beaver on a hot tin roof". troyrecord.com. 21 June 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  17. ^ Worby, Mike (2022-06-01). "The Boys Character You Likely Didn't Realize Was Played By Supernatural's Jim Beaver". Looper. Retrieved 2023-02-21.
  18. ^ "21st Annual Film Festival First Look Ahead! - Tallgrass Film Association". 15 August 2023.
  19. ^ "Jim Beaver - Character actor Hank Worden was born on this date 111 years ago, in 1901". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2023-02-21.
  20. ^ "'The Ranch' Actor Jim Beaver Marries Sarah Spiegel".
  21. ^ Supernatural star Jim Beaver files for divorce from his wife of three years citing irreconcilable differences, Daily Mail, August 26, 2022
  22. ^ Kubicek, John. "Cas and Bobby Returning for 'Supernatural' Season 6," BuddyTV.com. (accessed October 1, 2013)
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Doollee.com - Playwrights - Jim Beaver Archived 2014-12-04 at the Wayback Machine (accessed October 1, 2013)
  24. ^ a b c d "Jim Beaver | New Play Exchange". newplayexchange.org. Retrieved 19 February 2020.

External links[edit]