Teaching Students About David James Elliott: A Comprehensive Guide


David James Elliott, born David William Smith, is a renowned Canadian actor best known for his role as Harmon Rabb Jr. in the long-running television series JAG. With a career spanning over three decades, Elliott’s work in television, film, and theater offers valuable lessons for students delving into the world of performing arts. This article aims to guide educators on how best to teach students about David James Elliott and his contributions to the entertainment industry.

 Early Life and Education

Born on September 21, 1960, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, David James Elliott grew up with a natural penchant for acting. Teaching students about his early years allows them to understand how circumstances and passion can shape an artist’s career. Provide them with information on Elliott’s background by highlighting his journey from dropping out of high school at 18 to joining a rock band before finally finding his calling in acting.

Help students grasp how important education is in an actor’s development by discussing how Elliott went back to study theater after discovering his passion for the craft. Emphasize the significance of attending reputable institutions like Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (now Ryerson University), where he honed his skills and prepared himself for a successful career in acting.

Breakthrough Roles and JAG

Elliott’s rise to fame came with breakthrough roles in television series such as Street Legal and Knots Landing. Discuss these works with your students to help them understand the importance of seizing opportunities in the industry while building their resumes.

However, it was his role as Harmon Rabb Jr. in JAG that helped establish him as a prominent actor. Analyze episodes from JAG with your students and encourage them to identify aspects of Elliott’s portrayal that make the character endearing and memorable.

 Later Work and Career Highlights

Help students appreciate the trajectory of a seasoned actor’s career by exploring Elliott’s work beyond JAG. Discuss his roles in television series like Close to Home and Scoundrels, as well as his guest appearances on hit shows like CSI: NY and Mad Men.

Additionally, introduce students to Elliott’s work in films such as The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard and Clockwatchers. Highlight his versatility as an actor, the importance of diversification for a well-rounded career, and how this reflects the ever-changing nature of the entertainment industry.

Personal Life and Off-Screen Pursuits

Impart valuable life lessons by discussing Elliott’s personal experiences, including how he balances his professional and personal life, his marriage to actress Nanci Chambers, and raising their two children together.

Mentioning Elliott’s humanitarian efforts can also inspire students to use their platforms for good. Talk to them about his involvement in charitable organizations like The National Veterans Foundation and A Better LA that work towards issues he is passionate about.


Teaching students about David James Elliott requires educators to focus on both the remarkable career of a talented actor and the importance of perseverance, dedication, and hard work in any profession. With this comprehensive guide, educators can instill an appreciation for Elliott’s accomplishments while inspiring their students to pursue their passions.

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