I bet I could find a whole bunch of women who would disagree with him. However,
it's exactly that attitude that makes him attractive, as far as I'm concerned. Good-looking, shy, talented, and quick to banter with his on-screen brother/off-screen friend in fun, Jameson Parker doesn't get half the credit he deserves - from critics or from himself.
Francis Jameson Parker, Jr., now 5'11" (and a half, don't forget the half inch)
was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 18, 1947. (Note - He is three months younger than his co-star on Simon & Simon.) The most common nickname is 'JP', though I've seen Bonnie Parker quoted as saying 'James' (Playgirl, 85). I've yet to see anyone call him Francis.
Francis Jameson Parker Sr., was the first secretary of the US Embassy in Germany and eventually became the Director of Gunston Hall in Virginia. His mother, Sydney, was a short story writer. He has a sister, Judith, who is four years older. The earliest anecdote I've found was that he broke the bones in his arm at four years old.
much of his young scholastic years in boarding schools - ten schools in thirteen years (he was kicked out of two) in locations like Virginia, Washington DC, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. He was caught with alcohol, he stole a school car, he put a cow in the room of another student.
If anything, he was even more rambunctious in college. He was expelled when he fell three stories from a women's dormitory.
The story goes that while attending Beloit in Wisconsin, he climbed the exterior of the building with some friends (my guess would be to impress the women) and fell when he was trying
to avoid campus security. He was suspended.
While recovering from the injury, he joined a touring Passion play and continued his acting at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Sometime between 1968
and 1970, he was married for the first time. I haven't found mention of her name or when the marriage ended. I'm assuming that's how he wants it. The marriage
produced one daughter, Amye, in 1971.
After a year of suspension, JP was readmitted to Beloit (perhaps not coincidentally, the same year the school went co-ed). He earned a theatre arts degree and graduated in 1972.
His twenty-fifth year was one of several serious changes. His father was killed by a drunken driver. He left college and moved to Manhattan in New York. Lastly, he
owned his first television set.
While in New York, he 'paid his dues' as all actors do - performing odd jobs to pay the rent. He was a shoplifter catcher for Bookmasters, a bookshop in Greenwich Village.
Then he worked in a warehouse, apprenticed at a publishing company (Harcourt, Brace, Javanovich), and was a waiter in an Upper East Side restaurant (Yellowfingers).
He finally got his first big break acting in a breath mint commercial. That exposure led to a couple of television projects - Crossfire (1975) and Strange
New World (1975) - but most importantly it led to a role on NBC's soap opera Somerset from 1975 to 1976, as Dale Robinson.
After that, he was hired to be on ABC's soap opera One Life to Live from 1976 to 1978, as the first Brad Vernon (see pic).
He also did quite a few movies, television mini-series and guest shots in the late 70s. His quote regarding them, "I raped, I pillaged, I
plundered." (TVguide '83) is fairly accurate. Add 'I got killed,' and you've pretty much got the jist of the majority of his first movies.
One of the movies was The Bell Jar (1979), where he
performed his one and only nude scene. If you've seen it, you know it couldn't have been an easy scene to do. In his words, it was about "as romantic as a visit to the proctologist."
Somewhere between projects, he met and fell in love with Bonnie Dottley. She had originally been a stewardess and met JP in a New York acting school. She married him on October
30th, 1976, and in 1979, she gave birth to their first son, Francis Jameson Parker III. In 1980, they loaded up the truck and moved to Los Angeles.
In 1980, Philip DeGuere sold a show called 'Pirate's Key' to CBS. The network requested the producer check out JP for the lead. Reluctantly, Philip did just that -
and was very impressed by the actor. After double-checking one of JP's guest appearances to see how well he could act, JP was hired.
Finding the other lead in the series was not as easy. JP auditioned with many actors, but the chemistry never quite clicked. One day around lunchtime, JP was asked to come in
and audition with yet another actor. He rode his bike to the studio to check out the latest guy going up for the part. It was mutual hate at first site. However, as soon as they
started reading lines together, the chemistry was there. Gerald MacRaney was hired and Simon & Simon was born. It ran for eight seasons (1981-1989).
Although it's been said that there's some AJ in Jameson Parker, JP had some hobbies that probably would have made the young Simon cringe. JP is much more of an
outdoor person, enjoying activities like hunting and camping, often accompanied by Mac. JP is also much more likely to wear denim than AJ ever was. ;)
Life couldn't have been dull for JP during the Simon years. He was often mistaken for Parker Stevenson, even by his own network early on, though hopefully folks eventually got it straight. The show was highly physical, yet JP had broken one of his
vertebrae years before and can't (or maybe shouldn't, but does anyway, is more accurate. see pic) do stunts, jog, or jump off walls. He suffers from constant back discomfort, interrupted
by intermittent sharp pain. He took on outside projects - six movies to be specific, including one with his Simon & Simon co-stars Gerald MacRaney and Jeannie Wilson, American Justice. (The movie was definitely a
departure from their roles on the television series.)
In 1986, Jameson lost
his mother, Sydney Parker.
In 1982, Bonnie gave birth to their second son, Christian Buchanan Parker. Mac was with JP while Bonnie was in labor. If there's a better indication of true friendship, I don't know
what it is. The Parkers later had a daughter, Katherine, in 1986. Katherine was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy in 1990, which JP talked about during a Jerry's Kids telethon in 1991.
I know in 1988, Bonnie was working on a romance novel called "Restless Hearts", because JP kept offering to help out with the research. Unfortunately (or fortunately,
what do I know?), the marriage didn't last forever, ending in divorce in February 1992.
That year was one of immense change in JP's life. On June 18, 1992, he was married to his current wife, actress Darleen Carr in LA. (Does she sound familiar to anybody?
If not, go check the beginning credits of quite a few Simon & Simon episodes and you'll find her name.) That seems to be the biggest ray of sunlight in an otherwise tough year.
I say tough because this was also the year that JP was shot twice by a neighbor, 53 year-old contractor Robert St. George. On October 1, 1992, Darleen was walking
their three dogs and one of them allegedly did something naughty on St. George's yard. He reportedly made lewd comments to Darleen as a result. When JP heard
about this, he went to St. George's house and angrily banged on the door. After a short argument, St. George opened fire and hit JP once in the arm and once in the
upper body. The reports don't say for certain where the weapon came from, but the only charges were the ones against St. George. JP was taken to the hospital, but
released the next day. Robert St. George was found guilty of attempted murder and sentenced to nine years in prison. Judge Sandy Kreigler called St. George "hostile
and mean-spirited in nature" before pronouncing sentence. I'm just glad the man had lousy aim.
JP has done quite a few projects since Simon & Simon ended, including the reunion special (Simon & Simon: In Trouble Again) and guest appearances on
both of Mac's hit shows - Major Dad and Promised Land.
Recently, he was the executive producer for a movie called Letters to Lauren that has not yet been released. Current estimates are that it will be released late
2000 or early 2001. (If anyone hears anything, please let me know!)
He's also been an outspo
ken advocate for gun safety and preserving animal habitats. In 1998, he was on the panel of judges that chose the design for the new Federal Duck Stamp. He has also participated in several
celebrity hunts. He's also an advocate for Ducks Unlimited, which is an organization dedicated to preserving waterfowl habitats.
Jameson Parker has been an expert baker, an avid hunter and camper, a boxer, a very talented writer
, and a voracious reader. The libraries in both his LA and Vermont homes didn't contain enough room for all of his books. (I only use past tense because I'm getting this from articles
written a while ago, and anyone can change.)
If you have read Mac's biography, it may seem that I am biased in his favor. Not true. It's simply a result of media whim and perhaps JP's wishes
that not much has been printed about him since Simon & Simon ended. I will say for the record that I believe JP is one of the most under-appreciated actors I've seen.
J P 's m o st recent work has been on TNN's The World of Ducks Unlimited. If
you enjoy watching outdoor sports tips and tactics, or just watching JP, you might get lucky and see a rerun with him on TNN. Unfortunately, he stopped starring in the show as of 2001.
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