James Naughton is an American Tony Award-winning theater, film and television actor. Naughton was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the son of Rosemary (née Walsh) and Joseph Naughton, both of whom were teachers. After graduating from college in his home town of West Hertford, Connecticut, he went to medical college, where he studied to be a surgeon. While at college, he not only won his degree, but also found time to be a semi-professional baseball player. It was then that Naughton decided against a career in the medical profession and switched to acting, gaining a place at the Yale Drama School. His acting career began when he appeared in a series of Broadway dramas and musicals. He won the Theatre World Award for the role of Edmund Tyrone in the off-Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill’s classic play, Long Day's Journey Into Night in 1971 - the production capped by the late Robert Ryan’s brilliant performance as James Tyrone, along with strong support from Geraldine Fitzgerald as Mary Tyrone and Stacy Keach as James Tyrone, Jr. He went on to star with Geneviève Bujold in Antigone which was later made into a film in 1974. Naughton made other successful stage appearances in the classical theatre until he starred with another young up-and-coming actor, Timothy Bottoms, in the television play Look Homeward, Angel (1972). Another early highlight in his career was an appearance at the Edinburgh Festival when the company with whom he was playing was brought over to present two plays. On television, he starred in Faraday and Company with Dan Daily and Sharon Gless (1973-1974), and co-starred in a film, again with Timothy Bottoms - The Paper Chase (1973). James Naughton starred with Ron Harper in the 1974 Planet of the Apes spin-off television series, playing Peter Burke. Naughton also starred with Lindsay Wagner in a little known film - Second Wind (1976) - a movie that was shot in Toronto, Canada, home of the CN Tower which does appear in the film.

Naughton was unsentimental about the ill-fated Apes TV show when interviewed in 2002: "I wasn't dying to do that show but I was living in LA and had a $400 rent payment that was about two weeks overdue, which was a lot of money at the time. I had two children, I was in my twenties and I had said no to this project three times. Finally, another week went by and I said, 'I guess I better say yes.' But with the money I made I bought the house I was renting."[1] Nevertheless, he sensed a deeper meaning behind the Apes concept at the time: "We have the opportunity to make some comments about what is happening in our civilization today. After all, the 'Planet of the Apes' exists because humans destroyed themselves and their world through nuclear war. Also, man is the only primate that makes war on his own kind and for what often appear to be some pretty lousy reasons. Apes don't do that. That’s one of the points that is often brought out in the scripts. The apes are afraid that if humans get powerful, they won't just wipe out the apes. They'll wipe themselves out, too, as they did once before."[2] His enthusiasm soon waned, however: "We kinda became 'The Fugitive', you know? Each week we were caught and then we escaped, that's basically what each show was about. I think that television frequently winds up in a kind of a formulaic role - "Who's the bad guy of the week and how are you gonna escape from that". We were constantly whacking some guy over the head with a stick or drop kicking a guy in a monkey suit."[3] "The wonderful thing about Planet of the Apes - the only wonderful thing about it - was that it led to a lifelong friendship with Roddy McDowall."[1] Guest star Zina Bethune, speaking about the episode "The Legacy", also remembered: "There was a stray puppy running in and out of the shots. James fell in love with him and took him home. I am a big animal activist, so that meant a lot to me."[4] Away from the set of Planet of the Apes, Naughton was a keen tennis player and enjoyed riding his motorcycle in the hills and canyons of Southern California.

Some of James Naughton's film roles since have included The First Wives Club and The Good Mother, while his television credits have included Ally McBeal, Brooklyn Bridge and Who's the Boss. Naughton gained numerous accolades for his performances in Whose Life Is It Anyway and I Love My Wife, and won his first Tony Award for 'Best Actor in a Musical' in 1990 for City of Angels. In 1997 he won a second Tony Award with his portrayal of lawyer 'Billy Flynn' in the musical Chicago. Naughton took to the cabaret circuit with his award-winning one-man concert show Street of Dreams, which was turned into an off-Broadway show, and his simple, relaxed singing style was captured on his CD "It's About Time" in 2002. He created the lead role of 'Willy Brandt, Chancellor of West Germany', in the highly acclaimed drama Democracy in 2004. In 2006, he appeared in the movie The Devil Wears Prada, opposite Meryl Streep, and played the part of Edie Sedgwick's father, 'Fuzzy Sedgwick' in Factory Girl. He has also been the official voice of Audi in the U.S. since 2007 - his voice can be heard in their national TV and Radio spots. He has directed several plays in New York, including the 2002 revival of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, starring his close personal friend Paul Newman, which was filmed for cable TV in 2003. He and his wife, Pam, have two actor children: Keira Naughton and Greg Naughton. He is the brother of actor David Naughton, who also made a brief appearance in the Planet of the Apes TV series.


External linksEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Cool Naughton, By Barry Dougherty - 'The Friars Club' (2002)
  2. No Escape from the Planet of the Apes - 'Smash' Vol. 1 No. 3 (1974)
  3. Behind the Planet of the Apes
  4. Escape From Castle Frankenstein! - 'Simian Scrolls' #8

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