Thursday, May 15, 2008

Jamie Walters: Immortality, 2008 style

This fall will witness a revival of the TV show “Beverly Hills 90210.” During the ‘nineties, when I told my Hunter College students that I faithfully watched that evening soap opera for teeny boppers, they responded with incredulity--and pity. How could an educated, grown man stoop to such a thing?

I lamely explained that my devotion to the show represented an effort to keep up with young people. And, truth to tell, it addressed some remaining smidgeon of LA nostalgia. Yet these excuses were phony, for the decisive factor in the appeal was the sex appeal of the two main male stars, Jason Priestly and Luke Perry. (Jason Priestly? Gad, what was I thinking?) In my eyes, however, they were briefly eclipsed by Jamie Walters, who was there for only over a little over a year, when he was banished for being an abuser of the ineffable Tori Spelling (the character being the abuser, that is, not Mr. Walters). Never mess with the producer’s daughter!

I recently caught an episode of BH 90210 with Jamie Walters and my heart was aflutter again. So I did a little research on the internet. Walters was also, for a time, a successful rock musician. About six years ago his career, both in music and acting, seemed to come to a halt. Undaunted Jamie Walters (now 38) trained to be a paramedic with the LA Fire Department, a post he is fulfilling with distinction today. I think that is wholly admirable. Just the opposite of the trashy character Ray Pruit that he was required to play on TV, Jamie is truly a caring person.

One can triumph over stereotypes. As he notes, he could have gone on to be another David Cassidy. But he didn’t do that either. He was determined to be his own creation.

You can download some of his songs on the Internet. Three albums are available. Jamie is also still receiving fan letters from all over the world. This material he has generated is copious enough that it will last--probably forever. Jamie Walters is immortal. And who deserves it better than this fine musician, actor, and humanitarian?

At all events, you can see a six-minute clip from last November of JIm Walters in his new roles as family man and paramedic at

Charles Baudelaire wrote of the "heroism of everyday life." I am hereby inaugurating my own annual Heroism of Everyday Life Award. Jim Walters is the first recipient.



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