James Stacy was born Maurice William Elias on December 23rd, 1936 in Los Angeles, California. His father, Louie, was born in Sidon, Lebanon, and came to the United States via Canada with his mother at the age of two.
James’s father met his Irish-Scottish wife Lois in Glendale, California at a dance. She was the mother of two small children, a boy (Charles) and a girl, (Jacqueline). After their marriage, the couple had three children together: two boys, Louie, Jr. and James and younger sister, Caroline.
Still in his teens, James realized his dream of becoming a pro football player, signing a contract with the Vancouver Lions. However, after his friend Robert Fuller took him to an acting class taught by Have Gun, Will Travel star Richard Boone, James decided he wanted to become an actor. He then changed his name to James Stacy: James, (from James Dean, one of his favorite actors) and Stacy from his niece, his brother Louie’s daughter.
In October 1963, James met and married actress Connie Stevens. Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last and they divorced in 1966.
While appearing as a guest star on Gunsmoke in the two-part episode Vengeance (1967) James met his second wife, Kim Darby. They married in early 1968, and soon after became the parents of a little girl they named Heather. The marriage ended in 1969.
James’s acting career began with a series of recurring guest roles on popular shows including The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and The Donna Reed Show; followed by his co-starring roles in several theatrical films including the Disney movie Summer Magic with Burl Ives, Haley Mills, and Peter Brown.
In 1968, 20th Century Fox began casting for a new TV western called Lancer. James was signed for the role of youngest son Johnny, with Andrew Duggan as Murdoch (the Lancer patriarch) and Wayne Maunder as the elder son, Scott. Elizabeth Baur appeared as Murdoch’s ward, Teresa O’Brien.
During the filming of Lancer, James was also appearing both on the big screen and on television. He was also making numerous appearances as a guest star on a variety of TV shows, including The Freebooters and Cimarron Strip.
Two years after the cancellation of Lancer, on the night of September 27, 1973, James’s life was dramatically changed forever. While riding on his motorcycle with his girlfriend as passenger, he was struck by a car driven by a drunk driver. His girlfriend was killed and James was severely injured, losing his left arm and left leg.
Courageously refusing to retire, James began appearing in roles written to accommodate his severe disability. His comeback film was the 1975 Kirk Douglas western Posse, in which he was cast in the role of newspaper editor Harold Hellman. Kirk Douglas had written the part especially for James.
Then, in 1977, James starred in the Emmy nominated TV-movie Just a Little Inconvenience. Portraying an embittered double-amputee Vietnam veteran. James drew on his own experiences to bring a haunting depth and reality to the role. In the end, his character Kenny Briggs triumphs over tragedy to begin life anew. The role inspired James to become an advocate and participant in the California Handicapped Skiers Association.
In 1982, James appeared on the big screen in Disney’s fantasy film Something Wicked This Way Comes. Returning to television, James guest starred on several prime time shows, including Cagney & Lacey, Highway to Heaven, Hotel and The New WKRP-Cincinnati. His last regular TV role was Rogosheske in the weekly cop series Wiseguys. His role in Cagney & Lacey garnered him his second Emmy nomination.
Although now retired from acting, James continues to make public appearances and enjoys seeing his fans. Reaching out to help people with neck and spinal cord injuries, he continues to provide emotional support to individuals with limited mobility; and to those who have suffered the devastating trauma of amputation. He remains an inspiration to those who have benefited from his example and strong personal courage.
Sadly, James passed away unexpectedly on September 9, 2016, just three months shy of his 80th birthday. He is truly missed.