A familiar face in Hollywood, Jim Beaver—the actor who portrayed Bobby Singer in “Supernatural” and Whitney Ellsworth in “Deadwood”—will go down in history as one of Oklahoma Christian University’s finest alumni.
Before his time in college, Beaver served in the Marine Corps doing a tour of duty in Vietnam before being discharged in 1971. Beaver, who attended Oklahoma Christian in 1972, later transferred to the University of Central Oklahoma to finish his academic career, receiving a degree in oral communications.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Beaver discussed why he left Oklahoma Christian and how his early success was a large factor in transferring.
“My first acting training was in college,” Beaver said. “I attended what is now Oklahoma Christian University for a year and was promoted quite rapidly—perhaps too rapidly—from bit parts to leading roles. I left that school after that one year in part because I felt like I was having too much handed to me easily.”
While attending university, Beaver performed and directed several college plays and authored his first book, “John Garfield: His Life and Films.” He would later make his professional debut in an adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s “Rain” at the Oklahoma Theatre Center not long after enrolling as an Eagle. Beaver spent five years writing and performing plays for the Dallas Shakespeare Festival.
Relocating in 1979, Beaver took his talent to New York, working as both an actor and critic for “Films in Review” magazine. During this time, he worked as a ghostwriter for the book “Movie Blockbusters.”
Beaver then joined the Theatre West company based out of Los Angeles, CA, in 1983, where he returned to his role as an actor and playwright. In 1985, his play, “Verdigris,” catapulted his career, landing him a job as a television writer for “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Tour of Duty” and HBO’s “Vietnam War Story.”
His acting career soon gained traction, overshadowing his accomplishments as a writer. He was featured in “In Country,” “Sister Act” and “Magnolia,” before landing television roles in “Reasonable Doubts,” “Day Break” and “Justified.”
Beaver continued to say his acting and writing inspiration stems from one of the business’s most reputable names—John Wayne.
“As a child, I was always interested in movies, not so much for themselves as for how they relate to things I was interested in,” Beaver said. “And I was a John Wayne fanatic, in the sense that he was a great role model for me and that I aspired to be as strong and steadfast as the characters he most often portrayed.”
Public communications major and senior Tanner White said Beaver’s rise to fame serves as an inspiration for all Oklahoma Christian students.
“Even if you are not necessarily into movies, or into acting or even writing, Beaver’s success demonstrates that a sound work ethic and big aspirations can take you a very long way,” White said. “Working hard can take you very far.”
In a final interview with Behind the Themes, Beaver said he treats his successes like they are still new to him.
“When I was a kid, the high point of the day was to go to the mailbox and see if any mail came for me, and I’m still stuck in that mode,” Beaver said. “I’ve got no ego. I just like to have thousands of people write to me and tell me how wonderful I am.”