Why did you decide to attend UW-Parkside?

I was a young husband and father so a commuter college was perfect for me.

What activities were you involved in at UW-Parkside?

I was features and entertainment editor of the school newspaper.

How did your UW-Parkside experience impact your professional or personal life?

The film reviews I did for The Ranger were a good rehearsal for my later work writing books and articles on film’s history and aesthetic. The classes I took for an English major helped me as a writer on several levels. The film courses offered (then taught by Andy McLean) were helpful for my better understanding of cinema’s form and function. 

Tell us about your family.

Sadly, I was widowed in my 20s when my wife died of Leukemia, and the son I brought up successfully as a single parent died unexpectedly in the hospital after minor gallstone surgery at 34. So, I lost my family.   

What is the last book you read?

How about the last books I wrote? I had a book on John Wayne’s early B-westerns come out last summer, and a book I co-wrote on Bruce Willis films being released later this Fall. 

What are your favorite hobbies?

Film, music, writing, reading/research, and I also do art. I have a show coming up at a Racine art gallery in November. 

What is something that would surprise us about you?

Jerry Lewis was a personal friend for the last 25 years of his life. 

What advice do you have for current UW-Parkside Students?

Never lose sight of your goals or your dreams. They are both as important as each other and equally attainable.


James L. Neibaur is a Racine native who became interested in the power of motion pictures when he attended his first movie in November of 1963. It was shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, when young Neibaur saw adults cry for the first time. When he attended the movie with his family, he heard the crowded theater laughing at Jerry Lewis’ silly antics and realized that film comedy had the power to make people happy during a very sad time. 

From that point on, while Neibaur had the ordinary childhood of attending school, riding bikes, and pickup basketball games, he spent his spare time finding older movies on TV, especially comedies, and reading about them. By the time he was 16 he was writing articles for pay in niche magazines about classic films. This was in the early 70s when older movies were mainstream popular as part of a nostalgia craze. 

Now retired after a 30 year teaching career, where he taught everything from English and Speech/Drama to self-contained special ed classes for the most challenging students in the district, Neibaur writes books and articles on film history full time. He recently signed a contract to write what will be his 40th book, and has published books on everyone from Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, to Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, all the way to Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, and Bruce Willis. And, of course, Jerry Lewis – in fact Lewis was alive when Neibaur co-wrote a book on his films, and was able to interview him extensively at his home and on his boat. The result was a friendship for the last 25 years of Lewis’ life, the man whose work first inspired Neibaur. 

Sadly, Neibaur was widowed in his 20s (his wife died of Leukemia) and afterward successfully brought up a son as a single parent. Neibaur’s son taught writing at the University level, wrote sports articles for baseball websites, and was working on his first book, when he died unexpectedly in the hospital after minor surgery at the age of 34. 

Neibaur still lives in Racine, still writes books and articles full time, and is now branching out with his art. Having a knack for drawing with various media since childhood, Neibaur is finally displaying his art in gallery shows. The drawings include work in marker, ink, graphite, charcoal, pastels, and sometimes acrylic paint. 

Neibaur has continually cited his years at Parkside for teaching him many valuable things about the teaching profession, and about writing, and he has benefited even more greatly from the lasting friendships he made here. 

Bald Caucasion Male with white stubble smiling
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