Jim FaganDuring 1970-71, Jim Fagan was cast in an all-male adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” at the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York where he met his future wife Jamie Fagan, who told him he should be in commercials.
“Two years later we got married,” Jim says.
Jamie’s words of wisdom turned out to be spot on.
Starting in1974, Jim has done commercial voiceovers for companies such as American Express, Geico, Toyota, Diet Dr. Pepper, Sensodyne, Alka-Selzter, Kellogg’s, Canon Copiers, and Office Depot. Though his favorite and best-known gig is the sports promotion for NBC he did during the ’90s when he spoke the introductory line before basketball games: “This is NBA on NBC.”
“Commercials are a liberating thing,” Jim says. “Most actors wouldn’t survive without them.”
He’s also done voiceovers for the Olympic Games, the NFL, the Arena Football League, and Major League Baseball, as well as what Jim calls the most challenging—announce for the 2010 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden. Jim is also the signature voice of West Virginia Metro Radio and the Mountaineer Sports Network.
With all of his success, Jim didn’t make it right away in show business.
“Rejection happens,” he adds. “You’ve got to be resourceful, resilient and never quit. That’s key. Use rejection as a catalyst and an impetus to keep moving ahead.”
Though, luckily for him, Jim found out early on where he stacked up in the grand scheme of things.
Jim, a native of Windber, Pa., came to West Virginia University on a football scholarship and had dreams of being a sports caster. But, when an illness prohibited him from playing football, Jim turned to his other talents.
During his sophomore year in the theatre department at WVU, Jim’s mother stumbled upon an advertisement in the Pittsburgh Press to audition for an ABC television scholarship to go to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. Jim went to the audition as one of around 10,000 hopefuls.
“There were three people from Pittsburgh who won,” Jim says. “I was one of them.”
Although, he was a singer and did well on stage, Jim passed up the opportunity because he couldn’t give up what he loved most – going to school at WVU.
“I was comfortable,” Jim explains. “To this day, I have no relatives in Pennsylvania at all. My adoptive relatives are in West Virginia. My adoptive state is West Virginia, and that’s no lie.
“Relationships that were cemented from back then still exist. If you can get those kinds of friendships out of college, that’s pretty good.”
In’ 67, Jim earned one of WVU’s first bachelors of fine arts degrees. From there, he went on a two-year hiatus in the Army, and in 1969, Jim came back to his alma mater for graduate school in fine arts, where he ran WVU’s puppet mobile around the state.
As a current member of the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni and past chair of WVU’s Alumni Association Board of Directors, Jim remains actively involved in the board’s progress – a group he calls “an activist bunch.”
“We don’t sit around waiting for people to tell us what to do,” he says. “We do what we think should be done, because we only care about one thing, and that’s the success of the University.
“You’ve got to be prepared to work in industries you never thought of before and welcome it as an opportunity,” Jim says. “That’s why it’s important to join the Alumni Association. It’s networking with your peers and people who share common interests. It’s only going to get better. We need to take care of our own, because our own are worth taking care of.”
This feature was written by Cordia Lucas, a professional writing student at WVU.