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Gary Busey

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Title: Gary Busey  
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Subject: Act of Piracy, Carny (1980 film), Foolin' Around, Drop Zone (film), Let's Get Harry
Collection: 1944 Births, 20Th-Century American Male Actors, 21St-Century American Male Actors, American Christians, American Male Film Actors, American Male Stage Actors, American Male Television Actors, American Male Voice Actors, Bafta Winners (People), Celebrity Big Brother (Uk) Winners, Epic Records Artists, Living People, Male Actors from Oklahoma, Male Actors from Texas, Participants in American Reality Television Series, People from Baytown, Texas, People with Brain Injuries, Pittsburg State University Alumni, The Apprentice (U.S. Tv Series) Contestants
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Gary Busey

Gary Busey
Gary Busey at the Billboard-Children Uniting Nations after-party red carpet in 2008.
Born (1944-06-29) June 29, 1944
Cross Creek, Texas, United States
Occupation Actor
Years active 1968–present
  • Judy Helkenberg (m. 1968–90)
  • Tiani Warden (m. 1996–2001)

Gary Busey (born June 29, 1944)[1] is an American actor. He has appeared in films such as The Buddy Holly Story (1978) Big Wednesday (1978) Lethal Weapon (1987), Point Break (1991), Under Siege (1992), Black Sheep (1996), and The Gingerdead Man (2005), and has had guest appearances on Gunsmoke, Walker, Texas Ranger, Law & Order, Scrubs, and Entourage. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1978 for his role in The Buddy Holly Story.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Early career 2.1
    • Rise to prominence 2.2
    • 2000s–present 2.3
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography 4
    • Film 4.1
    • Television 4.2
    • Video games 4.3
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Busey was born in Goose Creek, Texas, the son of Sadie Virginia (née Arnett), a homemaker, and Delmer Lloyd Busey, a construction design manager.[2] He graduated from Nathan Hale High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1962. While attending Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas on a football scholarship, he became interested in acting.[3] He then transferred to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he quit school just one class short of graduation.


Early career

Gary Busey (standing), Mark Hamill and Jack Elam from the television program The Texas Wheelers.

Busey began his show business career as a drummer in The Rubber Band. He appears on several Leon Russell recordings, credited as playing drums under the names "Teddy Jack Eddy"[4] and "Sprunk", a character he created when he was a cast member of a local television comedy show in Tulsa, Oklahoma, called The Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting[4] on station KTUL (which starred fellow Tulsan Gailard Sartain as "Dr. Mazeppa Pompazoidi"). For his skits on Uncanny Film Festival, Busey drew on his American Hero, belligerent, know-it-all character. When he told Gailard Sartain his character needed a name, Sartain replied, "Take three: Teddy, Jack and Eddy."[4]

He played in a band called Carp, which released one album on Epic Records in 1969.[5] Busey continued to play several small roles in both film and television during the 1970s. In 1975, as the character "Harvey Daley," he was the last person killed on the series Gunsmoke (in the third-to-last episode, No. 633 – "The Busters").

Rise to prominence

Gary Busey at the premiere of A Star Is Born in 1976.

In 1974, Busey made his major film debut with a supporting role in Michael Cimino's buddy action caper Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges.

In 1976, he was hired by Barbra Streisand and her producer-boyfriend Jon Peters to play Bobby Ritchie, road manager to Kris Kristofferson's character in the remake film A Star is Born. On the DVD commentary of the film, Streisand says Busey was great and that she had seen him on a TV series and thought he had the right qualities to play the role.

In 1978, he starred as rock legend Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story with Sartain as The Big Bopper. For his performance, Busey received the greatest critical acclaim of his career and the movie earned Busey an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and the National Society of Film Critics' Best Actor award. In the film, he changes the lyrics to the song "Well All Right" and sings, "We're gonna love Teddy Jack..." a reference to his Teddy Jack Eddy persona. In the same year he also starred in the small yet acclaimed drama Straight Time and the surfing movie Big Wednesday, which is now a minor cult classic.

In the 1980s, Busey's roles included the critically acclaimed western Barbarosa (1982), the comedies D.C. Cab (1983)[6] and Insignificance (1985), and the Stephen King adaption Silver Bullet (1985). Perhaps most notably, he played one of the primary antagonists in the smash hit action comedy Lethal Weapon (1987).

In the 1990s, he had prominent supporting roles in successful action films such as Predator 2 (1990), Point Break (1991) and Under Siege (1992), which remain some of his best-known roles today. He also appeared in a number of other notable films such as Rookie of the Year (1993), The Firm (1993), Black Sheep (1996), Lost Highway (1997), and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), further establishing himself as a prolific actor in major films. Many of these characters are defined by their dynamic yet odd and offbeat personalities.

Busey sang the song "Stay All Night" on Saturday Night Live in March 1979 (season 4, episode 14), and on the Late Show with David Letterman in the 1990s.[7]


Busey in Kazakhstan in 2007.

Since the turn of the century, Busey has appeared in very few mainstream films. In 2002, Busey voiced the character Phil Cassidy in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, then again in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories in 2006. In 2005, he also voiced himself on an episode of The Simpsons[8] and appeared in the popular miniseries Into the West. Busey controversially appeared in the 2006 Turkish nationalist film Valley of the Wolves: Iraq, (Kurtlar Vadisi: Irak, in Turkish), which was accused of fascism, anti-Americanism[9] and anti-Semitism.[10]

In 2007, he appeared as himself in a prominent recurring role on HBO's Entourage, in which he parodied his eccentric image, ultimately appearing on three episodes of the show.

In 2008, he joined the second season of the reality show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.[11] Busey returned to reality television in Celebrity Apprentice 4, which premiered in March 2011,[12] and appeared again in Celebrity Apprentice 6. There, he briefly reprised his role as Buddy Holly by performing "Not Fade Away".

In a series of 2010 YouTube advertisements for Vitamin Water, Busey appeared as Norman Tugwater, a lawyer who defends professional athletes' entitlements to a cut from Fantasy Football team owners.[13]

In 2014, he became a celebrity spokesperson for Amazon Fire TV. That August, he appeared in, and became the first American winner of the fourteenth series of the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother.

Personal life

Busey in September 2007.

In 1971, Busey's wife Judy Helkenberg gave birth to their son, William Jacob "Jake" Busey. Busey and Helkenberg divorced when Jake was 19 years old. Busey has a daughter named Alectra from a previous relationship.[14] In February 2010, Busey's girlfriend Steffanie Sampson gave birth to their son, Luke Sampson Busey.[15]

On December 4, 1988, Busey was severely injured in a motorcycle accident in which he was not wearing a helmet. His skull was fractured, and doctors feared he suffered permanent brain damage.[16] During the filming of the second season of Celebrity Rehab in 2008, Busey was referred to psychiatrist Dr. Charles Sophy. Sophy suspected that Busey's brain injury has had a greater effect on him than realized. He described it as essentially weakening his mental "filters" and causing him to speak and act impulsively. Sophy recommended Busey take valproic acid (Depakote), with which Busey agreed.[17]

In 1996, Busey publicly announced that he was a Christian, saying: "I am proud to tell Hollywood I am a Christian. For the first time I am now free to be myself."[18][19]

In 1997, after recurring nosebleeds, he underwent surgery to remove a golf-ball-sized cancerous tumor from his sinus cavity, and after surgery he underwent radiation therapy.[20]




Video games


  1. ^ "Texas Births, 1926–1995". Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Gary Busey Biography (1923)". 
  3. ^ "Gary Busey". eBiog. Retrieved August 5, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c Tulsa TV, Gary Busey reference as Teddy Jack Eddy in Tulsa, OK.
  5. ^ Carp at AllMusic
  6. ^ People May 15, 1989, pp. 65–68
  7. ^ Gary Busey - Stay All Night on YouTube
  8. ^ "On a Clear Day I Can't See My Sister". The Simpsons. Season 16. Episode 11. 2005-06-03. Fox.
  9. ^ "Turkish rush to embrace anti-US film". BBC News. February 10, 2006. Retrieved May 3, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Turkish Film Uproar: Attacking the American Enemy on Screen – International – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News". Der Spiegel. February 22, 2006. Retrieved January 7, 2012. 
  11. ^ Archive of "Celebs Check Into Rehab 2 With Dr. Drew" at the Wayback Machine (archived June 13, 2008), VH! press release, June 10, 2008
  12. ^ Wright, Adam (November 18, 2010). "Celebrity Apprentice Season Four Cast Revealed". 
  13. ^ Cassens Weiss, Debra (August 30, 2010). "‘Lawyer Norman Tugwater’ Ready to Sue for Pro Athletes’ Fantasy Rights".  
  14. ^ James Peragine. "First Photos: Gary Busey Introduces Son Luke". 
  15. ^ Kate Stanhope. "Gary Busey and Girlfriend Are Expecting". 
  16. ^ Moran, W. Reed (July 5, 2001). "Gary Busey ministers to brain injury community". USA Today. Retrieved August 5, 2007. 
  17. ^ "Celebrity Rehab 2 with Dr. Drew , Episode 2 ,". Retrieved March 26, 2009. 
  18. ^ Cramberg, Joanne. "Tulsa's 'Bad Boy' Gary Busey Accepts Jesus". Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  19. ^ Virtue, David. "Rescued From The Present Evil Age". Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Two and a Half Men': Gary Busey joins as a mental patient – From Inside the Box – Zap2it"'". November 4, 2011. Retrieved January 7, 2012. 

External links

Preceded by
Jim Davidson
Celebrity Big Brother UK winner
Series 14 (2014)
Succeeded by
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