James Robinson Clitheroe was born December 24, 1921, in Clitheroe, Lancashire, England. His parents were James Robert Clitheroe and the former Emma Pye. He was named after his mother's brother, James Robinson Pye.
Jimmy never grew past 4'9" (130 cm) tall. He could easily pass as an 11 year old boy. As a young adult, with a dry wit, he was a star in Variety, as a boy in an all-girl stage troupe. He later worked with such comics as George Formby Jnr (1904-61), Jimmy Jewel (1909-95), Ben Warriss (1909-93), and Frank Randle (1901-57) in several movies in the 1940s.
Also an excellent pantomimist (like the late Marcel Marceau), he worked in this field from 1938 through 1971.
Although he worked in movies and television, his biggest appeal came in radio. His first performance on radio (BBC Home Service) was on Jimmy James' (real name James Casey, 1892-1965) program, The Mayor's Parlour. Soon after this he had his own show (variety), Call Boy.
His best known series was The Clitheroe Kid, which ran from 1957 through 1973. It aired on the BBC Light Programme and BBC Radio 2. With over 300 episodes, it was the longest running radio series in British radio.
There were TV shows in the 1960s (That's My Boy and Just Jimmy) as well as his best remembered movie, Rocket to the Moon (1967), an American film. Jimmy played the part of General Tom Thumb, P.T. Barnum's featured attraction (Barnum was played by Burl Ives).
When Jimmy's mother died in 1973, he was inconsolable. His doctor had prescribed a sleeping medication. He accidentally took an overdose and died during his mother's funeral on June 6, 1973, at the age of 51. He was cremated at the Carleton Crematorium located partly in Blackpool. Jimmy's ashes are under Memorial Tree Number 3, which also bears a memorial plaque (and a hastily painted numeral 3).