While growing up, James Noble became fascinated with movies, and studied drama at nearby Southern Methodist University. Noble served in the United States Navy during World War II, then moved to New York to study at the Actors Studio. In the late 1960s, he began appearing on a number of soap operas, including "As the World Turns" and "A World Apart". He appeared in the musical "1776", both on Broadway as John Hancock, and in the 1972 film version as Rev. John Witherspoon. Noble appeared in a series of small parts in films and television during the 1970s, but gained some prominence with the role of absent-minded Governor Eugene Gatling on the sitcom "Benson". He played the role for the run of the show, through 1986. Noble co-founded Open the Gate Pictures, a film production company, and works with the Theater Artists Workshop of Westport.