- Originally aspired to be an evangelistic singer.
- Caught the acting bug in high school when he played the dad in Bye Bye Birdie.
- Attended Oklahoma Baptist University on a music scholarship, but departed for Los Angeles after a couple of years.
- Big break came when he landed the role of Monroe Ficus on Too Close for Comfort in 1980.
- Famously paired with Tammy Faye Messner for a 1996 talk show titled The Jim J. and Tammy Faye Show.
- Has played five different roles in theatrical productions of Hairspray, most notably on Broadway as Wilbur Turnblad.
- Is an active AIDS advocate and has been HIV-positive for more than 20 years.