Jump to Navigation

James Reynolds

James ReynoldsKansas Historical Foundation
Board of Directors
Elected to board: 1999

James Reynolds was raised in the small farming community of Oskaloosa.  Upon graduation from high school, he joined the marines and was assigned to the Information Service Office as a newspaper reporter.  Later he served in Vietnam as a battlefield reporter.  Returning to Topeka after his military service, he enrolled at Washburn University, majoring in pre-law and journalism.  While attending classes, he developed an interest in the theater and discovered his passion for acting.

In between work in theater in San Francisco and Colorado Springs, Colorado, he supplemented his income as a newspaper reporter and feature writer. Later moving to Los Angeles he performed in primetime television and motion pictures, becoming one of the foundation blocks of NBC-TV’s Days of Our Lives, where he played the role of stalwart police commander Abe Carver for nine years.  In 1991 he joined the series, Generations, and played the powerful business tycoon Henry Marshall, earning an Emmy nomination as outstanding lead actor in a drama series. After the series ended he returned to his role at Days of Our Lives.  He is a 45 year veteran of stage, screen and television and has been a principal actor in one series, longer than any African-American actor in the history of television.

He formed Free State Productions, a film and TV production company in Kansas. He toured his one-man show, I, too, am American, a commentary on the African American experience from the time the first slaves were brought to this country up to the present. He and his wife, Lissa, are the owners and co-artistic directors of the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena.  Their charitable work raises money for South Pasadena High School and the Pasadena chapter of Ronald McDonald's House.  He is a member of National Preservation and California Preservation groups. His community activities involve more than 20 charitable fundraisers around the country annually. He has served as the spokesperson for the National Children Asthma Center. He has been active with the PTA, YMCA, Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, the National Jewish Hospital, and the Boy Scouts. He established Big Men Stuff, a company that utilizes clothing items with embroidered slogans to fight abuse.

He has been added to the Kansas Historical Society's list of 105 famous Kansans.  The list includes President Dwight Eisenhower, Amelia Earhart, Langston Hughes, Gale Sayers and Barry Sanders.  He is interested in the history of the West, African American history, and Kansas history. His wife, Lissa, is an actress and a business partner. They have one son.

Reynolds was first elected to the Kansas Historical Foundation Board of Directors in 1999.

"It was great growing up in a small town."