Sporting classic leading man looks and a maturity that was a marked departure from his "pretty boy" peers, James Denton achieved pop culture stardom on the primetime soap sensation, "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012). A native of Tennessee, Denton cut his acting teeth in the theaters of Chicago before relocating to California to pursue work in film and television. By the mid-1990s, he was picking up bit parts in several TV series, eventually landing a meatier recurring role as a villain on "The Pretender" (NBC, 1996-2000). Denton also began appearing in films, making his feature debut opposite Bette Midler in the Carl Reiner comedy "That Old Feeling" (1997). This was quickly followed by parts in two John Travolta films - the hyper-violent "Face/Off" (1997) and the political comedy-drama "Primary Colors" (1998). More television guest spots kept the hard-working actor busy over the next few years, although mainstream attention still eluded Denton. That is, until he was cast as Mike Delfino, a mysterious plumber whose sudden arrival on Wisteria Lane stokes the curiosity and lust of the local ladies on the smash hit series "Desperate Housewives." Denton's persistence had at last paid off, with his success on the hit series affording him the opportunity to pursue personal projects like music and local theater, while also cementing his reputation as a desirable everyman who appealed to both male and female viewers. A co-starring role opposite Catherine Bell in family comedy-fantasy series "Good Witch" (Hallmark 2015- ) followed the end of that popular series.
Born James Thomas Denton, Jr. in Nashville, TN on Jan. 20, 1963, he would use the nickname "Jamie" for much of his life, until reverting to the more formal "James" as a successful actor. Denton was raised by parents J.T. and Mary Jean in the town of Goodlettsville, TN, graduating from the local high school prior to attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. There on a basketball scholarship, Denton was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, majored in television/journalism, and graduated with a degree in advertising. Although his father had been involved in community theater, Denton did not try his hand at acting until the age of 23, when he was cast as George Gibbs in a local Nashville production of "Our Town." At the time, Denton was selling advertising for two local CBS Radio affiliates, but when the acting bug bit, he moved briefly to North Carolina, performing in various theater productions, before moving on to Chicago, where he pursued his newfound craft fulltime. He became a company member at the Windy City's Griffin Theater and the Strawdog Theater Ensemble, working steadily in several productions around town. Among his many credits was the portrayal of Kentucky preacher C.C. Showers in the play "The Diviners," for which Denton was nominated for that year's Jeff Award for Best Actor - the Chicago theater community's most prestigious theater award.
Shortly thereafter, Denton made the move to Los Angeles. Before long, he began landing guest spots on various television series, including a 1995 episode of the sci-fi adventure series "Sliders" (Fox/syndicated, 1994-2000). Things picked up the following year, with brief turns on shows like the paranormal thriller "Dark Skies" (NBC, 1996-97), and the military courtroom procedural "JAG" (NBC, 1995-96/CBS, 1996-2005). In 1997, Denton made an impression when he joined the cast of the action-adventure series "The Pretender" (NBC, 1996-2000), in a recurring role as the sinister sociopath, Mr. Lyle. Poised for breakout success, it was around this time that Denton was tapped as a regular cast member for the unaired ABC pilot "L.A. Med." Small film roles were also coming his way; among them, a not insubstantial part in the Bette Midler romantic comedy "That Old Feeling" (1997). Denton was also cast in the over-the-top John Woo-directed shoot-em-up, "Face/Off" (1997), starring the scenery-chewing duo of John Travolta and Nicholas Cage. The disappointment of another unaired pilot for ABC - the veterinary-themed sitcom "The Hanleys" - was balanced out by an appearance in the Bill Clinton-inspired dramedy, "Primary Colors" (1998), once again starring John Travolta, and directed by revered filmmaker Mike Nichols.
As "The Pretender" came to a close and the new millennium began, Denton kept busy with frequent guest appearances on a slew of other television series. Recurring roles on the Ryan Reynolds sitcom "Two Guys and a Girl" (ABC, 1999-2001) and the quirky courtroom comedy "Ally McBeal" (FOX, 1997-2002), as well as a turn on the Aaron Sorkin political drama "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006), were just a few of the appearances the actor made in 2000. The following year, Denton was given the opportunity to reprise his role as Mr. Lyle in the made-for-TV movies "The Pretender 2001" and "The Pretender: The Island of the Haunted" (TNT, 2001). It was also at this time that producer Steven Bochco cast him as the hunky Judge Augustus Ripley opposite Kim Delaney in the ratings-impaired courtroom drama "Philly" (ABC, 2001-02). Although the show lasted barely a season, there was more work to be had by Denton, with quest spots in 2002 on "The Drew Carey Show" (ABC, 1995-2004) and a return appearance on "JAG" in 2003. Then, after an extensive casting call, Denton was cast as John Kilmer, the head of an ultra-elite Homeland Security task force, in the political thriller "Threat Matrix" (ABC, 2003-04). As the lead of his own series, it was the highest profile role Denton had ever landed. Due to an unfavorable timeslot and poor ratings, however, the series was cancelled after one season.
In 2004, everything changed for Denton when he went from unknown working actor to primetime heartthrob after joining the cast of "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012). The show became an overnight sensation, and Denton, who played "plumber with a past" Mike Delfino - the object of desire for Teri Hatcher's character, Susan - was catapulted into the media spotlight like never before. Hungry for more mature handsome leading men, People magazine placed him on their annual "Sexiest Man Alive" list that year. With his notoriety greatly increased, Denton - a longtime guitar player - was asked to join the celebrity musical group, Band From TV. Featuring the talents of founder Greg Grunberg of "Heroes" (NBC, 2006-2010) and Hugh Laurie of "House M.D." (FOX, 2004-2012), the band frequently played at fundraising events around the country, donating all proceeds to charity. Capitalizing on his popularity, Denton managed to squeeze in guest appearances on the folksy sitcom "Reba" (The WB, 2001-06/The CW, 2006-07) during the first and second seasons of "Housewives." Obviously comfortable with being surrounded by beautiful women, Denton was also enlisted to host "Miss America 2006" (CMT, 2006).
Even as "Desperate Housewives" continued apace, Denton kept his hands in various other projects, such as a role in the independent zombie-western "Undead or Alive" (2007), an appearance in an episode of the ambitious fantasy series "Masters of Science Fiction" (ABC, 2006-07), as well as poking at himself with cameos in two episodes of the celebrity psychiatry comedy, "Head Case" (STARZ, 2006-09). A lifelong sports fan, Denton became co-owner of the minor league baseball team the Orange County Flyers in 2007, actively participating in the operations as much as his busy schedule would allow. For a change of pace, Denton provided the voice of the Man of Steel in the animated direct-to-DVD movie "All-Star Superman" (2011), based on the critically acclaimed comic book series. Following the end of "Desperate Housewives," Denton took some time off, appearing only in guest spots on series like "Hot in Cleveland" (Nick at Nite 2010-15) and "Devious Maids" (Lifetime 2013-16) before returning to full-time series work on the comedy-fantasy "Good Witch" (Hallmark 2015- ).
Cast (Feature Film)
Received guest roles on "Sliders" (Fox) and "Dark Skies" (NBC)
Landed the role of the eerily sociopathic 'Mr. Lyle' on the NBC series "The Pretender"
Starred as the mild-mannered 'Steven' in the play, "In Walked Monk"
Had guest starring roles on "Two Guys and a Girl," "Ally McBeal" and the "West Wing"
Cast opposite Kim Delaney in Steven Bochco's short-lived series "Philly" (ABC)
Reprised the role of 'Mr. Lyle' in the TV movies "Pretender 2001" and "Pretender: The Island Of The Haunted," which aired on TNT after NBC cancelled the show
Headed up the cast of the ABC series "Threat Matrix", as Special Agent John Kilmer
Cast as sexy plumber 'Mike Delfino' on the ABC Drama "Desperate Housewives"