Vintage Hunk: John James

By: Mike McCrann

I've recently been obsessed with TV vintage hunks from famous nighttime soaps of the 1980s and '90s. Sasha Mitchell was adorable on Dallas, Lorenzo Lamas was sex personified on Falcon Crest, and Maxwell Caulfield was the heat on The Colbys. But of all these dreamy studs, I would still set my cap (now that is a term for a "mature gentleman") for John James on Dynasty.

Why John James?

For me, Dynasty was the most enjoyable of all the famous soaps. Dallas was more popular, Falcon Crest more complicated, but Dynasty was just pure fun. This soap premiered in 1981 and didn't register strongly with the American public until Joan Collins came on board in Season 2 and turned the show into a runaway hit. Everything about Dynasty was classy— from the soaring title music by Oscar winner Bill Conti to the aerial shots of the Carrington Mansion (actually the country house Filoli in Woodside, CA) and introductions of the cast members. John James portrayed Jeff Colby, who would marry Blake Carrington's daughter Fallon, played by the gorgeous Pamela Sue Martin. James was in the original three-hour premiere of Dynasty and he was there at the end ten years later.

Born John James Anderson in 1956 in Minneapolis, James' father was a radio broadcaster. Young James decided early that acting was his future, and after a long stint on the daytime soap Search for Tomorrow, he went to California where he was signed to a holding deal with ABC. (That meant he was being paid while testing for various TV roles.) A pilot called Oil was in the works and James tested for the role of Steven Carrington, the gay son. He was instead cast as Jeff, a role added just to include the sexy young actor.

Oil became Dynasty, and with the addition of Joan Collins the show was a sensation. Cast members would come and go and be replaced but James remained throughout, even going off for the less successful spin-off series The Colbys. With his dark hair and gorgeous eyes, James was less obviously sexy than his Dallas/Falcon Crest counterparts, but there was just something about JJ (as his legion of fans called him) that made him immensely appealing.

James got married in 1991 to a former Miss Australia. They had two children and live happily in New York. He didn't do much after the Dynasty decade but his place in TV hunk history was clearly established. Just watch the Dynasty credits as Conti's grand score introduces James, or the longer clips with him shirtless, and you'll know why.