John James was born on April 18, 1956 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the son of radio broadcaster Herb Oscar Anderson.
John got a taste of show business as a toddler. His father moved his wife and three children to New Cannan from Chicago in 1961, and young John, at age 4, listened every morning to his dad spinning out the hits on WABC-AM, New York’s top-rated megawatt pop tooth grinder. Even as a kid he wanted to be part of the action and he wrote scripts for his brother and sister and pretend living-room shows for his parents and their friends.
John was accepted at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City . He got the proverbial crummy cold-water flat, bought a 10-speed bike for pedaling around town and took odd jobs-parking cars at night, yard work in the suburbs on the weekend- all the while carrying a full academic load. Invited to attend the Academy for a second year, he dropped out six weeks before graduation as he wanted to bust his career.
The first role John landed was on CBS's daytime soap, "Search for Tomorrow", and James played a college student. He wanted the part bad and though, by his own admission, he wasn't right for the role, he got it. The first six months on the show was a rough time. He was improvising too much and he didn't know what he was doing. But John got the hang on things and stayed with the show for two and a half years before being written out.
John went to California to meet up with producers and casting directors who were thrilled with the young actor. Within a week, James had signed a lucrative 'holding deal' with ABC. The network hotshots hadn't decided what they wanted to do with him, but they didn't want him doing it for the competition. He tested for every project ABC could concoct for the next couple of months, when along came a pilot called "Oil", so metamorphose into "Dynasty". James tested for the part of Steven Carrington but got the part of Jeff Colby. The part of Jeff didn't exist in the original script, it was created especially for him.
The role of Jeff Colby made him famous around the world. He later played the same character on Dynasty's spin off, "The Colbys". After that show got cancelled, John went home to "Dynasty". Although popular with fans during the series' run, he has since made only occasional acting appearances on television, with the exception of his role on a daytime soap "ATWT" on which he stayed from 2003 to 2004, since Dynasty ended. In May of 2006, John was cast in the role of Dr. Jeff Martin on "All My Children".
He has been married since 1989 to former Miss Australia (1978) Denise Coward and they have two children, Laura (born in 1990) and Philip (born in 1992). They all live on their 230-acre farm in Cambridge, NY.
His daughter Laura James won America's Next Top Model, Cycle 19 in 2012.