After bit parts in the John Woo martial arts extravaganza Face/Off (1997) and guest-starring appearances on the weekly series Ally McBeal and The Drew Carey Show, James Denton (also billed under his formal prename, Jamie Denton) achieved national recognition for his contribution to the darkly comic prime-time soap opera Desperate Housewives. In that program, Denton played Mike Delfino, the very eligible bachelor plumber, tossed like a volleyball in between sexy suburbanites Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan) and Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher).
The eldest child of a Nashville, TN, dentist, Denton attended Goodlettsville High School and junior college prior to enrolling in the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. At that institution, he majored in television and journalism, and graduated with honors, a degree in advertising under his arm. Grassroots experience acting in a number of regional plays -- including a local production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town -- imparted to Denton a permanent love of acting, and thus shifted his career path; he spent four years making a living by selling advertising to radio stations, but nothing could outshine the passion and drive he felt for acting. Thus, after a short theatrical stint in North Carolina, Denton set out for Chicago to pursue drama full-time. In the Windy City, Denton landed roles in such productions as A Streetcar Named Desire and Lapin, Lapin, and signed on as a semi-permanent member of the Griffin Theater and the Strawdog Theater Ensemble.
Denton subsequently scored the key role of Mr. Lyle in the NBC fantasy-adventure series The Pretender, and worked on a number of other small-screen programs, including The Untouchables, Sliders, and Dark Skies. An even bigger TV role would come later, in the form
of his role on Housewives. Shortly after the series premiered in October 2004, it rocketed up to become one of the most popular shows on television, and Denton would stick with the series as it was renewed for season after season.