Biography of Penny James

Raised in rural Colorado, Penny James grew up with a keen awareness and appreciation for the majestic beauty of nature. At the age of 20 her own beauty was recognized when she was crowned Miss Colorado. While appearing as a finalist in the televised pageant, she was approached by a talent scout, who subsequently cast her in a commercial for Pert shampoo. Her successful appearance on screen catapulted her career, and Penny went on to star in many other commercials for clients including 7-Up, United Airlines, Alberto Culver, Jean Naté perfume, and numerous others. With her career blossoming, Penny moved to Chicago, where she began posing for renowned fashion photographer Victor Skrebneski. Her stunning image appeared regularly on the pages of newspapers and magazines, including five different covers for Playboy.

As her modeling portfolio continued to grow in the Windy City, Penny met and later married a renowned facial plastic surgeon. Her glamorous life was well in gear when the mega agency Wilhemina beckoned her to New York City. Penny spent several years as one of their most sought-after models, when Eileen Ford took notice of her talent and lured her over to the Ford Agency. Caught up in the fast-paced world of international fashion photography, Penny fell into a frantic lifestyle fueled by an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Fortunately, she realized that this superficial chaos left her emotionally and physically spent and in a haze devoid of creative and spiritual growth. Making a tough decision to turn her life around completely, she stopped modeling, divorced her husband, and relocated to a small rural community in Pennsylvania.

Finding inspiration, guidance, protection, and strength in the natural beauty of the Delaware Water Gap, Penny built a stable life for herself founded on structure and meaning. Her creativity reawakened, Penny began to write a screenplay entitled “And as Promised, Kisses,” concerning the highs and lows of living in an addictive society. Collaborating with her on the project was her associate, William Kelley, who won an Academy Award for his screenplay of the film “Witness,” starring Harrison Ford. Feeling strongly that a musical score needed to be added to their screenplay, Penny attended music classes to learn the art of composing for the screen. Singer and songwriter Johnny Holliday lent his musical virtuosity to Penny’s lyrics by providing the melody for their song “I Promise I Will Listen.”

As she broadened her creative horizons, she was inspired by Tom Waits’ music entitled “Rainbow Sleeve” and wrote a poetry visualization, as well as a novel named “Traveling Rainbows,” about her spiritual experiences in nature. Exploring her soulful connection with the diverse beauty and intricate workings of natural forms, Penny started to design and assemble a large sculpture of a bed made of trees. This installation, called “Infinite Stillness,” was introduced at the Delaware National Recreational Park. For her next project, Penny made and installed her next bed of trees at Riverside Park in the New York City Parks and Recreational area.

Her newest sculpture has taken Penny to an unusual location. Collaborating with James Jiler, author of “Doing Time in the Garden – Life Lessons through Prison Horticulture,” she contacted the Horticultural Society of New York for their assistance in helping to build a bed of trees on a 10-acre plot of land dedicated by the New York Department of Corrections to the inmate gardeners of Rikers’ Island. The project is currently underway with the intention to plant seeds in what will be the mattress area of the bed. This design will express Penny’s spiritual message of hope and growth with a structured life.

As she continues to expand her metaphysical consciousness, Penny is now working with the Lawyers’ Alliance for New York to establish a non-profit organization which will assist people and animals that have slipped through the cracks of our society. Her goal is to provide a safe haven for people and creatures who require various types of nurturing to achieve harmony and growth within a compassionate environment.


Penny James, Bed of Trees Foundation – Masterful Communication Through Nature