Family & Companions
An engaging, boyish actor who has excelled onstage though his career has also taken him into films and TV. James Naughton graduated from Yale's drama school in 1970 and began making his mark in the stage production "Olympian Games" (1970) and with an award-winning turn as Edmund Tyrone in "Long Day's Journey Into Night." By the time he reached Broadway in 1977 with Cy Coleman's "I Love My Wife," he had already gotten a start in films and TV.
Naughton has appeared in an impressive number of failed series, beginning as Detective Dan Dailey's son on "Faraday and Company" (NBC, 1974). From there, Naughton went on to play an astronaut on "Planet of the Apes" (CBS, 1974), a teacher on "Making the Grade" (CBS, 1982), a hospital director on "Trauma Center" (ABC, 1983) and a teen's dad on "Raising Miranda" (CBS, 1988). His only series successes have been as a recurring guest: as Judith Light's ex-husband on ABC's "Who's the Boss?" (1984-1987), and on NBC's "The Cosby Mysteries" (1994-1995).
His ventures into TV-movies have been more successful, beginning with a featured role in "F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Last of the Belles" (ABC, 1974). Naughton has lent his attractive, solid presence to dramas in roles like a US soldier in "The Bunker" (CBS, 1981), a doctor in the Vanessa Redgrave vehicle "My Body, My Child" (ABC, 1982), a mobster in "Necessity" (CBS, 1988), a menaced local in "The Birds II: Land's End" (Showtime, 1994) and as Sharon Gless' new husband in two "Cagney and Lacey" reunions on CBS (1994 and 1995).
His younger brother David's feature career got a jump-start with "An American Werewolf in London" (1981), Naughton's has been relegated to small roles in films like "The Paper Chase" (1972), "The Good Mother" (1988) and "First Kid" (1996), as the president. His two best roles have been as the bumptious Gentleman Caller in Paul Newman's 1987 screen version of "The Glass Menagerie" and as Stockard Channing's smarmy husband in "The First Wives' Club" (1996).
But while Naughton seems to shine as reliable husbands, dads and professionals on TV and in films, the stage has given him his best roles. He first hit Broadway with a co-starring part in Cy Coleman's mate-swapping comedy "I Love My Wife" (1977). Playing opposite Joanna Gleason, Naughton displayed charm and a surprisingly strong vocal technique. After co-starring with Mary Tyler Moore in "Whose Life Is It, Anyway?" (1980), he had his next stage hit with another Coleman musical, the superior "City of Angels" (1989-1990). Playing a hard-bitten detective in the Sam Spade mode, Naughton earned critical praise and a Tony as Best Actor in a Musical. He returned to Broadway in 1996 alongside Ann Reinking and Bebe Neuwirth in the revival of Kander and Ebb's "Chicago," in which he was a shady lawyer using showbiz techniques to "razzle dazzle" the jury.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Professional stage debut in "Olympian Games" (East Hampton, New York)
New York stage debut as Edmund Tyrone in "Long Day's Journey Into Night"
TV debut in "Look Homeward, Angel"
TV series debut in "Faraday and Company" (NBC)
Film debut in "The Paper Chase"
TV movie debut in "F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Last of the Belles" (ABC)
Broadway debut, in "I Love My Wife"
Co-starred with Mary Tyler Moore in revised version of "Whose Life Is It, Anyway?"
Had recurring guest role on sitcom "Who's the Boss?" (ABC) as the ex-husband of Angela Bower (Judith Light)
Played featured role opposite son Greg in Off-Broadway revival of "Golden Boy" directed by Joanne Woodward
Co-starred in revival of "Chicago" on Broadway; received second Tony Award
Directed "Filumena" at the Blue Light Theatre in NYC
Returned to acting in the Off-Broadway play "Y2K" by Arthur Kopit
Had recurring role as the father of "Ally McBeal" on that Fox series
Staged Arthur Miller's "The Price" at the Williamstown Theatre Festival; production transferred to Broadway in late October
Headlined the one-man show "James Naughton: Street of Dreams", a cabaret show-cum-theater piece staged Off-Broadway by Mike Nichols
Starred opposite Bette Midler in the pilot for the CBS fall sitcom "Bette"; replaced by actor Kevin Dunn when series' production was shifted from NYC to L.A.
Staged "Our Town" at the Westport Country Playhouse in summer
Returned to broadway in Michael Frayn's "Democracy"