James Christopher Read was born on July 31, 1953, in Buffalo, New York, into a well prospered family. He had never dreamed about acting until his collegiate years. He started studying law at the University of Oregon, but close to his graduation, he discovered his love for theatre. He left the university and joined a theatrical group in Denver. His movie and TV career started in 1982 when he played one of the main roles in the Remington Steele (1982) series as well as guest-starring in other different series. His most important career moment was in the year 1985 when he received the role of George Hazard in one of the most popular and successful mini-series ever in North and South, Book I (1985) (although he had not been convinced if he should accept the role!). Before starting doing the show, Read has spent a few weeks at Patrick Swayze's ranch, where Swayze taught him to ride a horse. During his first month on North and South, Book I (1985) set, Read met Wendy Kilbourne. They started dating, got married soon thereafter, and are still together to this day. In 1986, Read played Hazard once again in the North and South, Book I (1985) sequel entitled North and South, Book II (1986). He reprised the role once again in 1994 in Heaven & Hell: North & South, Book III (1994).
Read has performed in dozens of other movies and series, but none of them reached the same popularity as the three North and South mini-series. Though he has never been "a Star," he is well-liked and his work is enjoyed by viewers all over the world. He lives with Kilbourne, their son Jackson (born 1991), daughter Sydney, 2 dogs (Charlie and Hank), and cat Mable in California.