Photos & Oddities
A collection of embarrassing old (some low-res screen grabs) and new photos from Jimmy’s unremarkable career.
UNUSUAL ADDENDA, STRANGE BUT TRUE STORIES
• Jimmy has worked with most of the cast of the original Star Wars movie: Harrison Ford (on the Magic Hour), Mark Hamill (on a Lucas Arts commercial for the video game Mercenaries), Carrie Fisher (on NightLight), Anthony Daniels & a Kenny-Baker-less R2D2 (at the debut of Disneyland’s Star Tours), but paradoxically, not with the legendary voice of Darth Vader, James Earl Jones, or with the very tall Peter Mayhew.
• Jim used to be a VJ. He created and hosted 2 national shows in which he not only interviewed everyone in music, but jumped out of airplanes, went hang gliding, got set on fire, fed killer whales, inexplicably entered an alligator pit, fell off of Amy Grant’s horse into a mud puddle, slammed into the ivy in the outfield of Wrigley Field, dangled off a helicopter over Waikiki, jumped off a 45 foot waterfall, and drove a JetSki through stinging nettles in Chesapeake Bay, sending the chopped up nettles down his swimming trunks, inducing fiery agony and a very hurried trip to a 7-11 for calamine lotion.
• Jim used to be a documentary cameraman/director as well, shooting in some 32 countries worldwide from China, India, Japan, Thailand & the Philippines to Europe, the Middle East and all over Southern Africa. He and Beantown Productions’ Dave Carr also toured Brazil with Guns & Roses, shooting a documentary of their Rock in Rio performance, during which Jim’s life was threatened twice as he happened to be holding a $40,000 BetaCam and was unwisely unarmed. He also travelled to Sao Paulo, Brazil with Slash to visit the Snake Institute there.
• Jimmy jumped on the Wayne Gretzky/LA Kings bandwagon in 1988 and learned to play ice hockey as an adult and only recently retired. Seeing 6’-8” Jim in full pads and skates was a terrifying sight.
•Jim owes a big portion of his career to Magic Johnson. When he tested to be the announcer on Magic’s ill-fated late night Fox talk show, Magic said “Oh, it would be good to have a tall announcer.” They never tested anyone else, Jim got the job and appeared in a few skits as well as announcing the show which ran for a whopping 3 months in 1998.
•Jim has seen both Michael Bolton and Pat Boone in their underwear (not at the same time, and not intentionally). (Jim was waiting to interview Bolton backstage in Chicago and was once associate producer of Pat’s show.)
• Be careful what you wish for... as a youngster, Jim always wanted to be the voice of the baseball TV disclaimer, i.e. “without the expressed, written consent of Major League Baseball...” Sure enough, Jim was the voice of that timeless, awe-inspiring disclaimer on all FOX MLB regular season, playoff and World Series games from 2004 to 2009.
•Once, while tracking the Bushmen of the Kalahari in Botswana, Africa, their guide prepared them to meet some of the most “primitive people on earth.” He warned Jim and producer Craig Forrest that the Bushmen did not wear clothing and had never seen white people before. After many frightening hours in a Jeep they stumbled across a tribe and were met by a Bushman eating out of a severed steenbok antelope head with a spoon while wearing a T-shirt from the Broadway show “Cats!” Apparently not as “primitive” and isolated as they had been led to believe (although the T-shirt was rather ripped and holey).
•Jimmy once held open a door and was actually touched in the abdomen by Princess Diana in Vail, Colorado. This was, of course, before she died. Had this occurred after she passed away, it would really be noteworthy. Ironically and recently, Jim discovered that England’s Queen Elizabeth, Diana’s ex-Mother-in-law is a 7th cousin from the same clan.
•After judging on an Emmy panel with other actors, many of whom were classic, big name stars from old sitcoms, Jim rode the elevator down to the garage with Don Porter who played Sally Fields’ dad on her first TV series “Gidget”. Jim suddenly burst into song with the Gidget theme, “Wait ‘til you see my Gidget, you’ll want her for your valentine...” For some reason, Mr. Porter pressed a button and got off the elevator early. Why Jim would even know the Gidget theme is a cause for concern.
•Jim & Sonya bought their former house in Pacific Palisades from the Bionic Woman herself, Lindsay Wagner. That sounds like fun, but the Hodsons were subsequently often awakened in the night by a drunken Lee Majors jumping up on the balcony yelling “Jamie!”
•Jim’s wife Sonya was an executive on the CBS hit show “Touched by an Angel.” Executive Producer Martha Williamson graciously wrote a role for Jim to play an NBA play by play announcer on the show. He flew to Utah for filming and performed his first take. Series regular (the late) John Dye who played the Angel of Death walked over and said, “ You’re not really gonna do it that way are you? I mean, it’s your career.” Jim fell for it hook, line and sinker for a few agonizing moments before realizing his leg was being pulled.
• When Jim proposed to his then-girlfriend Sonya, she vomited. Well, okay, she had food poisoning already, but she did say “Yes!” Why Jim would propose to someone suffering from food poisoning at the time is a long story.