James Norman Beaver, Jr. (born August 12, 1950) is an American stage, film, and television actor, a playwright, screenwriter, and film historian, who uses the professional name Jim Beaver. He is perhaps most familiar to worldwide audiences as the gruff but tenderhearted prospector “Ellsworth” on the HBO Western drama series Deadwood, a starring role which brought him acclaim and a Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination for Ensemble Acting after three decades of supporting work in films and TV. He is currently portraying Bobby Singer in the CW television series Supernatural alongside Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki.
Beaver was born in Laramie, Wyoming, the son of Dorothy Adell (née Crawford) and James Norman Beaver, Sr. (1924-2004), a minister. His father was of French and English heritage (the family name was originally de Beauvoir, and Beaver is a distant cousin of author and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir and Pennsylvania governor General James A. Beaver), and his mother is Scots-German-Cherokee and a descendant of senator, governor, and three-time U.S. Attorney General John J. Crittenden. Although his parents’ families had both been long in Texas, Beaver was born in Laramie while his father was doing graduate work in accounting at the University of Wyoming. Returning to Texas, Beaver Sr. worked as an accountant and as a minister for the Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas, Crowley, Texas, Dallas, Texas and Grapevine, Texas. For most of Jim Beaver’s youth, his family lived in Irving, Texas, even while his father preached in surrounding communities. He and his three younger sisters (Denise, Reneé, and Teddlie) all attended Irving High School (where he was a classmate of ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard), but he transferred in his senior year to Fort Worth Christian Academy, from which he graduated in 1968. He also took courses at Fort Worth Christian College. Despite having appeared in some elementary-school plays, he showed no particular interest in an acting career, but immersed himself in film history and expressed a desire for a career as a writer, publishing a few short stories in his high school anthology.
Less than two months after his graduation from high school, Beaver followed several of his close friends into the United States Marine Corps. Following basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Beaver was trained there as a microwave radio relay technician. He served at the Marine Corps Base Twentynine Palms and at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton before being transferred to the 1st Marine Division near Da Nang, South Vietnam in 1970. He served as a radio operator at an outlying detachment of the 1st Marine Regiment, then as supply chief for the division communications company. He returned to the U.S. in 1971 and was discharged as Corporal (E-4), though he remained active in the Marine Reserve until 1976.
Upon his release from active duty in 1971, he returned to Irving, Texas, and worked briefly for Frito-Lay as a corn-chip dough mixer. He entered what is now Oklahoma Christian University, where he became interested in theatre. He made his true theatrical debut in a small part in The Miracle Worker. The following year, he transferred to Central State University (now known as the University of Central Oklahoma). He performed in numerous plays in college and supported himself as a cabdriver, a movie projectionist, a tennis-club maintenance man, and an amusement-park stuntman at Frontier City. He also worked as a newscaster and hosted jazz and classical music programs on radio station KCSC. During his college days, he also began to write, completing several plays and also his first book, on actor John Garfield, while still a student. Beaver graduated with a degree in Oral Communications in 1975. He briefly pursued graduate studies, but soon returned to Irving, Texas.
Jim Beaver made his professional stage debut in October, 1972, while still a college student, in Rain, by W. Somerset Maugham at the Oklahoma Theatre Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. After returning to Texas, he did a great deal of local theatre in the Dallas area, supporting himself as a film cleaner at a 16mm film rental firm and as a stagehand for the Dallas Ballet. He joined the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas in 1976, performing in numerous productions. In 1979, he was commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville to write the first of three plays for that company (Spades, Sidekick, and Semper Fi), and was twice a finalist in the theatre’s national Great American Play Contest (for Once Upon a Single Bound and Verdigris). Along with plays, he continued writing for film journals and for several years was a columnist, critic, and feature writer for the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures magazine Films in Review.
Moving to New York City in 1979, Beaver worked steadily onstage in stock and on tour, simultaneously writing plays and researching a biography of actor George Reeves (a project which he still pursues between acting jobs). He appeared in starring roles in such plays as The Hasty Heart and The Rainmaker in Birmingham, Alabama and The Lark in Manchester, New Hampshire, and toured the country as Macduff in Macbeth and in The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia. During this period, he ghostwrote the book Movie Blockbusters for critic Steven Scheuer.
In 1983, he moved to Los Angeles, California to continue research on his biography of George Reeves. He worked for a year as the film archivist for the Variety Arts Center. Following a reading of his play Verdigris, he was asked to join the prestigious Theatre West company in Hollywood, where he continues as an actor and playwright to this day. Verdigris was produced to very good reviews in 1985 and Beaver was signed by the powerful Triad Artists agency. He immediately began to work writing episodes of various television series, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents (he received a 1987 CableACE Award nomination for his very first TV script, for this show), Tour of Duty, and Vietnam War Story. He also worked occasionally in small roles in films and television.
The 1988 Writers Guild of America strike fundamentally altered the freelance television writing market, and Beaver’s TV writing career came to an abrupt halt. However, a chance meeting led to his being cast as the best friend of star Bruce Willis in Norman Jewison’s drama about Vietnam veterans, In Country, and his acting career suddenly took up the slack where his TV writing career had faltered. (Beaver was the only actual Vietnam veteran among the principal cast of In Country.)
Subsequently he has appeared in many popular films, including Sister Act, Sliver, Bad Girls, Adaptation., Magnolia, and The Life of David Gale. He starred in the TV series Thunder Alley as the comic sidekick to Ed Asner, and as homicide cop Earl Gaddis on Reasonable Doubts. He was also French Stewart’s sullen boss Happy Doug on the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun.
In 2002, Beaver was cast as one of the stars of the ensemble Western drama Deadwood in the role of Whitney Ellsworth, a goldminer whom he often described as “Gabby Hayes with Tourette syndrome”. Ellsworth went from being a filth-covered reprobate to marrying the richest woman in town and becoming a beloved and stalwart figure in the community. (Originally Ellsworth did not have a first name, but when it became necessary to provide one, Beaver requested he be named Whitney Ellsworth, after the producer of George Reeves’s Adventures of Superman.) He continued his long research for the Reeves biography, and in 2005 served as the historical/biographical consultant on the theatrical feature film about Reeves’s death, Hollywoodland.
Beaver in 2006 joined the cast of the HBO drama John from Cincinnati while simultaneously playing the recurring roles of Bobby Singer on Supernatural and Carter Reese on another HBO drama Big Love. He then took on the starring role of Sheriff Charlie Mills in the CBS drama Harper’s Island, scheduled to air in early 2009.
His memoir of the year following his wife’s 2003 diagnosis of lung cancer, entitled Life’s That Way, was purchased in a preemptive bid by Putnam Publishing in the fall of 2007. Publication is expected in early 2009.
Beaver studied acting with Clyde Ventura and Academy Award-winning actor Maximilian Schell.
- John Garfield: His Life and Films (1978)
- Movie Blockbusters (with Steven Scheuer) (1982, revised edition 1983)
- Life’s That Way: A Memoir (2009)
- The Cop and the Anthem (adapted from the short story by O. Henry) (1973)
- As You Like It, or Anything You Want To, Also Known as Rotterdam and Parmesan Are Dead (1975)
- Once Upon a Single Bound (1977)
- The Ox-Bow Incident (adapted from the novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark) (1978)
- Verdigris (1979)
- Spades (1979)
- Sidekick (1981)
- Semper Fi (1982)
- Truth, Justice, and the Texican Way (1985)
- Pressing Engagements (1990)
- Mockingbird (2001)
- Night Riders (2006)
- John Wayne. Films in Review, May 1977
- George Raft. Films in Review, April 1978
- John Carradine. Films in Review, October 1979
- James Stewart. Films in Review, October 1980
- Steve McQueen. Films in Review, August-September 1981
- Frank Perry. Films in Review, November 1981
- Strother Martin. Films in Review, November 1982
- Ad Glib (regular column). Films in Review, November 1981-December 1983
- “Harper’s Island” (2009) (2009) TV series …. Sheriff Charlie Mills (2009)
- “Supernatural” …. Bobby Singer (17 episodes, 2006-2009)
- Dark and Stormy Night (2009) …. Jack Tugdon
- “John from Cincinnati” …. Vietnam Joe (8 episodes, 2007-2009)
- In the A.M. of Dec. 26th at Mickey’s (on the Corner of Cunningham & Kongosak in Barrow) (2008) (voice) …. Radio D.J.
- The Silence of Bees (2008) …. Parker Lam
- Reflections (2008/III) …. Frank
- “Criminal Minds” …. Sheriff Williams (1 episode, 2007)
- Cooties (2007) …. The Man
- “Big Love” …. Carter Reese (3 episodes, 2007)
- Next (2007) …. Wisdom
- “Day Break” …. ‘Uncle’ Nick Vukovic (5 episodes, 2007)
- “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” …. Stanley Tanner (2 episodes, 2006)
- “The Unit” …. Lloyd Cole (1 episode, 2006)
- “Deadwood” …. Whitney Ellsworth (35 episodes, 2004-2006)
- “Crossing Jordan” …. Ranger Diggory (1 episode, 2004)
- “Days of Our Lives” …. Father Timothy Jansen #2 (16 episodes, 1996-2004)
- “Monk” …. Sheriff Mathis (1 episode, 2004)
- The Commission (2003) …. Howard L. Brennan
- “The Lyon’s Den” …. Hank Ferris (1 episode, 2003)
- “Tremors” …. Sheriff Sam Boggs (1 episode, 2003)
- “Six Feet Under” …. Prison Officer (1 episode, 2003)
- Wave Babes (2003) (V) (uncredited) …. Amos Nandy
- “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” …. Craig (1 episode, 2003)
- The Life of David Gale (2003) …. Duke Grover
- Adaptation. (2002) …. Ranger Tony
- Wheelmen (2002) …. Agent Hammond
- “Philly” …. Nelson Vanderhoff (1 episode, 2001)
- “The West Wing” …. Carl (1 episode, 2001)
- “Enterprise” …. Admiral Daniel Leonard (1 episode, 2001)
- Joy Ride (2001/I) …. Sheriff Ritter
- “The Division” …. Fred Zito (1 episode, 2001)
- Warden of Red Rock (2001) (TV) …. Jefferson Bent
- “That ’70s Show” …. Tony (1 episode, 2001)
- “The Trouble with Normal” …. Gary (7 episodes, 2000-2001)
- Where the Heart Is (2000) (uncredited) …. Clawhammer
- “The Young and the Restless” …. Leo Sylvestri / … (5 episodes, 1985-2001)
- Fraud (2000) …. Detective Mason
- Magnolia (1999) …. Smiling Peanut Patron #1
- “3rd Rock from the Sun” …. Happy Doug (7 episodes, 1998-1999)
- “The X Files” …. Coroner (1 episode, 1999)
- Ah! Silenciosa (1999) …. Ambrose Bierce
- Impala (1999) …. Sheriff Bert Davis
- Mr. Murder (1998) (TV) …. Agent Jason Reiling
- At Sachem Farm (1998) …. Foreman
- “Pensacola: Wings of Gold” (1 episode, 1998)
- “Melrose Place” …. Ranger Virgil (1 episode, 1998)
- “The Adventures of A.R.K.” …. Ranger Earl (1 episode)
- “Total Security” …. Detective McKissick (1 episode)
- Divided by Hate (1997) (TV) …. Danny Leland
- “Spy Game” …. Thornbush (1 episode, 1997)
- “Murder One” …. Donald Cleary (2 episodes, 1996-1997)
- Wounded (1997) …. Agent Eric Ashton
- “Moloney” …. Detective Ashton (1 episode, 1997)
- “NYPD Blue” …. Jesus Christ / … (1 episode, 1997)
- “Bone Chillers” …. Edgar Allan Poe (1 episode, 1996)
- “High Incident” …. Father in Wreck (1 episode, 1996)
- “Home Improvement” …. Duke Miller (1 episode, 1995)
- “Thunder Alley” …. Leland DuParte (27 episodes, 1994-1995)
- Bad Girls (1994/I) …. Pinkerton Detective Graves
- Children of the Dark (1994) (TV) (uncredited) …. Roddy Gibbons
- Blue Chips (1994) …. Ricky’s Father
- Twogether (1994) …. Oscar
- Geronimo: An American Legend (1993) …. Proclamation officer
- “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” …. Henry Barnes (1 episode, 1993)
- Sliver (1993) …. Detective Ira
- Gunsmoke: The Long Ride (1993) (TV) …. Traveling Blacksmith
- “Reasonable Doubts” …. Detective Earl Gaddis (13 episodes, 1991-1993)
- “Santa Barbara” …. Andy – the rapist / … (5 episodes, 1991-1992)
- Sister Act (1992) …. Detective Clarkson
- Gunsmoke: To the Last Man (1992) (TV) …. Deputy Willie Rudd
- Little Secrets (1991) (as Richard Muldoon) …. Liquor Store Cashier
- “Father Dowling Mysteries” …. Drake (1 episode, 1990)
- The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson (1990) (TV) …. Maj. Trimble
- El Diablo (1990) (TV) …. Spivey Irick
- “Nasty Boys” …. Wetstone (1 episode, 1990)
- Follow Your Heart (1990) (TV) …. Craig Hraboy
- “Midnight Caller” …. Tom Barlow (1 episode, 1990)
- The Young Riders” …. Johnson (1 episode, 1989)
- Mothers, Daughters and Lovers (1989) (TV) …. Sheriff Jack Edzard
- In Country (1989) …. Earl Smith
- The Cherry (1989) …. The Captain
- Turner & Hooch (1989) …. Plant Manager
- “CBS Summer Playhouse” …. Wrong-House Neighbor (1 episode, 1989)
- Mergers & Acquisitions (1989) …. Gabby Hayes
- “Paradise” …. Frank Foster (1 episode, 1988)
- Defense Play (1988) …. FBI Agent
- Perry Mason: The Case of the Lady in the Lake (1988) (TV) …. Motel Manager
- “Matlock” …. Barney Sutler (1 episode, 1988)
- Two Idiots in Hollywood (1988) …. Crying Man
- “Jake and the Fatman” …. Defense Attorney (1 episode, 1987)
- Hollywood Shuffle (1987) …. Postal Worker
- Sweet Revenge (1987) (uncredited) …. Smuggler
- File 8022 (1985) (as James Beaver) …. Ben Crysler
- Silkwood (1983) (uncredited) …. Plant Manager
- Girls of the White Orchid (1983) (TV) (uncredited) …. Pedestrian
- Nighthawks (1981) (uncredited) …. Subway Passenger
- “Dallas” …. Diner / … (2 episodes, 1978-1979)
- Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (1979) (TV) …. Cowboy player
- Warnings (1979) …. The Artist
- The Seniors (1978) (uncredited) …. Client
- Desperado (1978) (TV) …. Nathan
- Semi-Tough (1977) (uncredited) …. B.E.A.T. Member
|Robert Steven Singer|
|First appearance||Devil’s Trap|
|Created by||Eric Kripke|
|Portrayed by||Jim Beaver|
|Spouse(s)||Unnamed wife (deceased)|
Robert “Bobby” Steven Singer is a fictional character in The CW Television Network’s Supernatural played by Jim Beaver. He is presumably named after the show’s executive producer, Robert Singer.
Bobby is a hunter like the Winchesters, though he seems to stay fairly stationary. He wears a lot of flannel and is almost always seen in a trucker’s hat. He runs an auto salvage yard as his day job, and is the Winchesters’ go-to guy for supernatural research. He became involved in hunting supernatural evil after his wife became possessed and he was forced to kill her, because of his lack of supernatural knowledge at that time. He seems to have amassed quite a bit of knowledge over the years (being the first to deduce on his own that Meg was in fact possessed), plus his house is full of bookcases and stacks of books about the supernatural world and the things hunters go after. He and John Winchester were old friends, though they had a falling out sometime before the events that began the TV show. At Bobby’s first appearance, Dean Winchester comments that the last time Bobby and John met, Bobby almost “filled him with buckshot,” but Bobby stepped in and began helping John, Sam, and Dean again during the course of the show.
Bobby first appears on the show in the episode “Devil’s Trap”, when Dean and Sam Winchester head to Bobby’s place to ask him for help near the end of Season One after their father is taken captive by Meg Masters. He helps the brothers by giving Sam the Key of Solomon and showing them how to trap and perform an exorcism on Meg. He tells Dean before Meg’s exorcism is complete that the soul of a demon’s host stays inside the body and will remain even after the demon is exorcised, but since Meg fell seven stories out of the warehouse in “Shadow”, the demon is all that holds her together and the innocent girl inside will die.
Bobby next comes to the Winchesters’ aid after John, Sam, and Dean’s car accident in the final moments of the Season One finale. John asks Sam to go to Bobby and get some items on a list. When Sam arrives, Bobby tells him that the items are not used for protection from demons as John told Sam, but are rather used to summon a demon. Bobby nevertheless finds and gathers the items as requested and gives them to Sam to take to John. Bobby also retrieves Dean’s totaled Impala to prevent the hidden weapons stash in the trunk from being discovered.
After John Winchester’s death and Dean’s miraculous recovery, Bobby lets Sam and Dean stay at his place for about a month to rest up and recover. Dean spends the month channeling all his energy into rebuilding his car while Sam tries to get him to talk about their father’s death. Bobby also gives them use of the only working vehicle he has in his salvage yard, an old minivan, so that they can locate John’s old acquaintance Ellen Harvelle, whom they discovered through an old voice message on John’s phone. The boys then use the minivan to check out a hunt in “Everybody Loves a Clown”, but abandon it by the side of the road after they fear they were spotted in it. Though Bobby is mentioned and not seen in that episode, it is assumed that Dean and Sam stay with him after that until Dean’s Impala is fully restored and the Winchesters go back on the road again.
In “Born Under a Bad Sign”, Bobby helps Dean exorcise a possessed Sam. When Sam, after a week spent missing, shows up on Bobby’s doorstep without his brother, Bobby offers Sam a beer. Bobby demonstrates his cleverness by secretly spiking the beer with holy water. This exposes Sam’s possession by the demon formerly in possession of Meg Masters, whom they had exorcised nearly six months earlier. After Dean arrives, they attempt to exorcise her out of Sam, but the demon has locked herself inside Sam’s body with a circular binding link on his arm. During the subsequent fight between Dean and Sam, Bobby again reveals his resourcefulness by burning a line through the link with a hot fireplace poker, breaking the circle and allowing their previous exorcism to work, freeing Sam. He then provides the brothers with pendant charms that fend off possession to prevent a repeat occurrence.
Soon after that, they call him to come to help them out on a case in Ohio that they can’t get a handle on. The narrative of “Tall Tales” consists of Dean and Sam alternately relating the situation thus far to Bobby, and each brother’s stories about the case reveal the boys’ own increasingly ridiculous behavior. After hearing everything, Bobby exasperatedly tells them that it looks like a trickster god (such as Loki or Anansi) is messing around. Though Bobby warns them that as a god, tricksters are immortal, the three force a confrontation with it anyway after finding a weakness. They leave the university thinking that they succeeded in killing it, though unbeknownst to them all, the trickster simply tricked them and moved on.
In the first part of the second season finale, “All Hell Breaks Loose”, Bobby returns to help Dean find Sam after he mysteriously disappears. At the end of the episode, they find Sam in a long abandoned ghost town, but arrive too late to help him. They witness Sam being fatally stabbed in the back. Bobby tries to restore some sense to the distraught Dean, begging him to bury Sam. When he subsequently learns that Dean has traded his soul for Sam’s resurrection, he reprimands Dean.
He then plays a vital role in closing the portal to Hell located in a Wyoming cemetery that sits in the middle of a giant Devil’s Trap of railroad tracks. After closing the portal, Bobby sees John’s ghost consoling Dean and Sam. After Dean kills Azazel, Bobby and Ellen inform Sam and Dean that up to 200 demons may have escaped Hell while the portal was open.
Bobby continues to appear in Season Three as both a hunter and a mentor to Dean and Sam, helping them fight the war against the demons. He also continuously proves to be an important asset to the brothers as he and Ruby both rebuild the Colt together. In “Dream a Little Dream of Me”, it is revealed that Bobby got into hunting after witnessing the possession of his wife and killing her. It is shown through his dream state in the episode that he bears immense guilt for what he did to her, and has taken some sort of unwritten vow to become involved with the supernatural to prevent what happened to him from ever happening to anyone else. He once again appears in “Mystery Spot”, used as one of the Trickster’s disguises. The Trickster pretends to be Bobby in order to convey to Sam a powerful lesson—that Dean is going to die, that Sam can’t stop it, and that the Winchesters need to stop sacrificing themselves for each other. The Trickster even goes so far as to see if Sam will kill Bobby in order to bring back Dean. Sam does kill Bobby (thinking he’s really the Trickster), then is wracked with extreme remorse when Bobby stays dead—until the Trickster transforms back from Bobby into himself to deliver his message. In the season finale, Bobby helps the Winchesters in their efforts to save Dean by pinpointing Lilith’s location, and insisting upon accompanying them in their likely fatal attack on her. Dean protests that it’s not Bobby’s fight, but Bobby responds with “Family don’t end with blood, Boy!” Bobby proves invaluable in the fight by brilliantly turning the water supplying a lawn sprinkler system into holy water, cutting Lilith off from her army. He is last seen sadly looking at his watch as midnight arrives and Dean’s life ends.
Bobby returns in the Season Four premiere episode Lazarus Rising and is the first person Dean speaks to upon escaping from Hell. Dean calls Bobby twice after he is rescued from Hell, but Bobby doesn’t believe him and threatens to kill him. When Dean then shows up on Bobby’s doorstep, Bobby makes two attempts to kill Dean before Dean proves that he is who he says he is. In doing so, he describes Bobby as “the closest thing I have to a father.” Bobby helps the two brothers to reunite and also introduces Dean and Sam to Pamela, a psychic who attempts to channel the “demon” that pulled Dean out of hell. Bobby also assists Dean in the ritual to summon the “demon”, which turns out to be an Angel. He’s rendered unconscious by the Angel Castiel with a simple touch to the forehead. He then helps the brothers do research to figure out why the Angel rescued Dean, then, why the dead have risen and are attacking hunters. It is Bobby who figures out that the dead are risen as part of the “Rising of the Witnesses,” a sign of the coming apocalypse. Bobby also figures out the spell for setting those risen spirits to rest again. It is revealed in the same episode that Bobby has built a ghost- and demon-proof panic room of solid iron construction, embedded with salt, surrounded by Devil’s Traps, and decorated with a poster of Bo Derek in 10. He returns in the episode “Yellow Fever,” helping Sam cure Dean of a disease that kills people with fear. It is revealed in that episode that he is fluent in Japanese.
Bobby returns once again in “Sex and Violence”, where it is revealed that he cons actual Federal agents for Sam and Dean when they run into them on cases. Bobby ends up saving the day by killing a siren that has manipulated Sam and Dean into a fist-fight.
- Season 1 –
- “Devil’s Trap”
- Season 2 –
- “In My Time of Dying”, “Born Under a Bad Sign”, “Tall Tales”, “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1”, “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2”
- Season 3 –
- “The Magnificent Seven”, “Bad Day at Black Rock”, “Sin City”, “Dream a Little Dream of Me”, “Mystery Spot”, “Time Is On My Side”, “No Rest For the Wicked”
- Season 4 –
- “Lazarus Rising”, “Are you there, God? It’s me, Dean Winchester” “Yellow Fever”, “Sex and Violence”