Family & Companions
Leaner, and often cast as meaner, than his older brother Stacy Keach, James Keach has moved from playing usually supporting, often adversarial or villainous, roles to producing and directing for TV and the big screen. Tall, with a "blue collar" air, he sported a mustache for most of his twenty year acting career (1971-91). Keach began on stage in various roles at the prestigious New York Shakespeare Festival before segueing to the small screen as Orville in an acclaimed PBS biography of the Wright Brothers in 1972. He made his feature debut in a small role in "Sunburst" (1975) and went on to appear in supporting roles in "Death Play" (1976), Alan J. Pakula's "Comes a Horseman" (1978) and Jon Troell's remake of "Hurricane" (1979).
It took Walter Hill's "The Long Riders" (1980) to help establish Keach. With his brother Stacy, he co-executive produced, co-wrote and co-starred in this revisionist Western. The film's hook had real-life brothers portraying legendary outlaws: David, Keith and Robert Carradine were the Youngers; Randy and Dennis Quaid were the Millers; Nicholas and Christopher Guest were the Fords; and the Keach brothers played Frank and Jesse James. With an effective Ry Cooder score and stunning visuals, "The Long Riders" received excellent reviews and is considered a minor classic. The film, however, did not jump-start Keach's career. He went on to supporting roles as a motorcycle cop in Harold Ramis' "National Lampoon's Vacation" (1983), Catherine Hicks' husband in John Byrum's misguided remake of "The Razor's Edge" (1984) and gave a snortingly amusing turn as a Gestapo-like traffic officer in "Moving Violations" (1985).
Keach began moving behind the camera. He devised the story for and, with Brian Grazer, produced "Armed and Dangerous" (1986), a low-brow comedy vehicle for John Candy and Eugene Levy. Keach had slightly better luck with his directorial debut, "False Identity" (1990), an uneven murder mystery that starred Genevieve Bujold and Stacy Keach. His sophomore effort, "The Stars Fell on Henrietta" (1995), was a box office disappointment but earned some critical praise. The film detailed the effects of a wildcat oilman (Robert Duvall) on the lives of a young couple (Frances Fisher and Aidan Quinn) in Depression-era Texas.
Keach has had better success in the director's chair on TV. He forged a relationship with the USA network, helming telefilms like the actioner "The Forgotten" (1989) and the mystery "Praying Mantis" (1993). During the filming of the mystery "Sunstroke" (USA, 1992), Keach fell in live with his leading lady, Jane Seymour. They married in 1993 and he has since directed her in episodes of the CBS series "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" and the TV biopic "A Passion for Justice: The Hazel Brannon Smith Story" (ABC, 1994).
Director (Feature Film)
Cast (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Director (TV Mini-Series)
New York stage debut, various productions, New York Shakespeare Festival
TV debut as Orville Wright in the acclaimed PBS biography "Orville & Wilbur"
Broadway debut, "Felice" in "The Outcry"
Feature debut in a small role in "Sunburst"
Had supporting roles in "Death Play" and "Cannonball"
Co-starred (as Jesse James), executive produced and co-wrote (with brother Stacy and others), "The Long Riders"
Played a motorcycle cop in Harold Ramis' "National Lampoon's Vacation"
Played Goldie Hawn's ex-husband in "Wildcats"
Produced "A Winner Never Quits" for TV and "Armed and Dangerous" for the big screen
Directed the ABC series "The Young Riders," which he also produced
Helmed the USA movie, "The Forgotten" starring his brother Stacy
Feature directing debut, "False Identity"
Directed several episodes of the popular CBS series, "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" starring his wife, actress, Jane Seymour
Met future wife Jane Seymour, while directing her in the USA movie, "Sunstroke"
Directed second feature "The Stars Fell on Henrietta"
Directed wife in the CBS made-for-TV movie, "The Absolute Truth"
Produced and directed the CBS TV-movie, "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman: The Movie" starring his wife
Directed Leslie Nielsen in the independent feature "Camouflage"
Helmed "Disease of the Wind," a documentary shot in partnership with the American Red Cross
Produced the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line," also had a memorable cameo as the Folsom Prison warden
Directed and co-produced "Blind Dating" with wife Jane Seymour who also starred