William Gary Busey (//; born June 29, 1944) is an American actor. A prolific character actor, Busey has appeared in over 150 films, including Lethal Weapon (1987), Predator 2 (1990), Point Break (1991), Under Siege (1992), The Firm (1993), Carried Away (1996), Black Sheep (1996), Lost Highway (1997), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), The Gingerdead Man (2005), Quigley (2003), and Piranha 3DD (2012). Gary also made guest appearances on television shows such as Gunsmoke, Walker, Texas Ranger, Law & Order, Scrubs, Impractical Jokers, and Entourage.
Busey in 2008
June 29, 1944
Goose Creek, Texas, U.S.
|Children||3, including Jake Busey|
For portraying Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story (1978), Busey was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor.
Busey was born in Goose Creek, Texas, the son of Sadie Virginia (née Arnett), a homemaker, and Delmer Lloyd Busey, a construction design manager. While he was in fourth grade, Busey moved from Goose Creek to Tulsa, where he later attended Bell Junior High School, then attended and graduated from Nathan Hale High School. Busey attended Coffeyville Community college before attending Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas on a football scholarship, where he became interested in acting. He then transferred to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma where he quit school just one class short of graduation.
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" 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 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."
He played in a band called Carp, which released one album on Epic Records in 1969. 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
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 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, the comedies D.C. Cab and Insignificance, and the Stephen King adaptation Silver Bullet. He played one of the primary antagonists opposite Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the action comedy Lethal Weapon.
In the 1990s, he had prominent supporting roles in successful action films such as Predator 2, Point Break and Under Siege. He also appeared in Rookie of the Year, The Firm, Black Sheep, Lost Highway, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
In 2002, Busey voiced the character Phil Cassidy in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and later reprises the role in the prequel Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories in 2006. He received much praise from critics and fans for his portrayal of the outlandish character. In 2003, Busey starred in a Comedy Central reality show, I'm with Busey. In 2005, he also voiced himself in an episode of The Simpsons 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 and anti-Semitism.
In 2008, he joined the second season of the reality show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Busey returned to reality television in Celebrity Apprentice 4, which premiered in March 2011, and appeared again in Celebrity Apprentice 6. There, he briefly reprised his role as Buddy Holly by performing "Not Fade Away".
On September 1, 2015, it was announced that he would be competing on the 21st season of Dancing with the Stars. He was paired with professional dancer Anna Trebunskaya. Busey and Trebunskaya made it to Week 4 of competition but were then eliminated and finished in 10th place.
On June 17, 2019, he was announced to star as God in the Off-Broadway musical Only Human at the Theatre at St. Clements in New York. The production is scheduled to begin performances October 8, 2019 and officially open October 21. The plot of Only Human is described as follows: "Before they were enemies, they were co-workers. Jesus and Lucifer never saw eye-to-eye, but when an extreme case of creative differences gets the best of them, all hell breaks loose. Literally." In a statement on playing God in the upcoming production, he said, "God is everything love is and that love becomes the beginning of blessings and miracles. Playing this role of God is easy because I’m not acting, I’m just believing."
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.
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.
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." Busey cites the motorcycle accident, as well as a 1995 cocaine overdose, as events that strengthened his religious faith. Also in 1996, he married actress Tiani Warden, who was in three movies with Gary – The Chain, The Rage, and Plato's Run. They divorced in 2001.
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.
In 2015, Busey supported Donald Trump's 2016 presidential bid saying, "For the American people, vote for Donald Trump come election night." In late 2015, he again expressed support for Trump's candidacy for president.
- 1967: The Love-Ins as Hippie with Loudspeaker (uncredited) pistons
- 1968: Wild in the Streets as Concert Attendee (uncredited)
- 1971: Angels Hard as They Come (also known as Angel Warriors) as Henry
- 1972: The Magnificent Seven Ride! as Hank Allen
- 1972: Dirty Little Billy as Basil Crabtree
- 1973: Lolly-Madonna XXX (also known as The Lolly-Madonna War) as Zeb
- 1973: The Last American Hero (also known as Hard Driver) as Wayne Jackson
- 1973: Hex as Giblets
- 1974: Thunderbolt and Lightfoot Curly
- 1974: You and Me as Himself
- 1976: The Gumball Rally as Gibson – Camaro Team
- 1976: A Star Is Born as Bobby Ritchie
- 1978: Straight Time as Willy Darrin
- 1978: The Buddy Holly Story as Buddy Holly
- 1978: Big Wednesday as Leroy Smith
- 1980: Carny as Frankie
- 1980: Foolin' Around as Wes
- 1982: Barbarosa as Karl Westover
- 1983: D.C. Cab as Dell
- 1983: Didn't You Hear... as James
- 1984: The Bear as Paul W. Bryant
- 1985: Insignificance as The Ballplayer
- 1985: Silver Bullet as Uncle Red
- 1986: Let's Get Harry as Jack
- 1986: Eye of the Tiger as Buck Matthews
- 1987: Lethal Weapon as Joshua
- 1988: Bulletproof as Frank McBain
- 1988: A Dangerous Life (TV Mini-Series) as Tony O'Neil
- 1989: Hider in the House as Tom Sykes
- 1990: Act of Piracy as Ted Andrews
- 1990: Predator 2 as Peter Keyes
- 1991: Point Break as F.B.I. Special Agent Angelo Pappas
- 1991: My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys as Clint
- 1992: Canvas as Ozzy Decker
- 1992: Under Siege as Commander Krill
- 1992: The Player as Himself
- 1993: The Firm as Eddie Lomax
- 1993: Rookie of the Year as Chet Steadman
- 1993: South Beach as Lenny
- 1994: Breaking Point as Dwight Meadows
- 1994: Surviving the Game as Doc Hawkins
- 1994: Drop Zone as Ty Moncrief
- 1994: Warriors as Frank Vail
- 1994: Chasers as Sergeant Vince Banger
- 1995: Man with a Gun as Jack Rushton
- 1996: Livers Ain't Cheap (also known as The Real Thing) as Foreman
- 1996: One Clean Move as Connie
- 1996: Black Sheep as Drake
- 1996: Carried Away (also known as Acts of Love) as Major Nathan Wheeler
- 1996: Sticks & Stones as Book's Dad
- 1996: The Chain as Frank Morrisey
- 1997: Steel Sharks as Cmdr. Bill McKay
- 1997: Suspicious Minds as Vic Mulvey
- 1997: The Rage as Art Dacy
- 1997: Lost Highway as Bill Dayton
- 1997: Lethal Tender as Mr. Turner
- 1997: Plato's Run as Plato
- 1998: Rough Draft as Nelson Keece
- 1998: Soldier as Church
- 1998: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Highway Patrolman
- 1998: Detour (also known as Too Hard to Die) as Otto Mazur
- 1999: Two Shades of Blue as Jack Reynolds
- 1999: Hot Boyz (also known as Gang Law) as Tully
- 1999: The Girl Next Door as Sheriff Larson
- 1999: No Tomorrow as Noah
- 1999: Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang as The Hodded Fang
- 2000: Tribulation as Tom Canboro
- 2000: Hot Boyz (also known as Gang Law) as Tully
- 2000: Down 'n Dirty as D. A. Mickey Casey
- 2000: G-Men from Hell as Lt. Langdon
- 2001: A Crack in the Floor as Tyler Trout
- 2002: Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice as Richmond Claremont
- 2002: Sam and Janet Evening as Bartender
- 2002: Glory Glory (also known as Hooded Angels) as Sheriff Ben Tyler
- 2002: On the Edge as Felix
- 2003: Quigley (also known as Daddy Dog Day) as Archie Channinng
- 2003: Welcome 2 Ibiza as Cortez
- 2003: Frost: Portrait of a Vampire as Micah
- 2003: Ghost Rock as Jack Pickett
- 2003: Scorched as Zeek
- 2003: The Shadowlands as Supreme Regent Onticree
- 2003: The Prize Fighter as Whitey Ferguson
- 2004: Motocross Kids as Viper
- 2004: Fallacy
- 2004: Lexie as Mesdeg
- 2004: Latin Dragon as Thorn
- 2004: El Padrino as Lars
- 2004: Border Blues as LAPD medium Michael March
- 2005: Shade of Pale as Billings
- 2005: The Baker's Dozen (Video short) as Millard
- 2005: Buckaroo: The Movie as Dr. Brawn
- 2005: Chasing Ghosts as Marcos Alfiri
- 2005: A Sight for Sore Eyes (Short) as Earl Cooper
- 2005: The Gingerdead Man as Millard Findlemeyer
- 2005: The Hand Job as Blind Master
- 2005: Souled Out as Gabriel (The Angel)
- 2005: No Rules as Leroy Little
- 2006: Cloud 9 as Himself
- 2006: Descansos as The Keeper
- 2006: Valley of the Wolves: Iraq as Doctor
- 2006: Dr. Dolittle 3 as Butch (voice)
- 2006: Shut Up and Shoot! as Bob Katz
- 2006: Soft Target as John Rouse
- 2006: The Hard Easy as Vinnie
- 2006: Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride: Hunter S. Thompson on Film (Documentary) as Himself
- 2007: Succubus: Hell-Bent as Sentinel
- 2007: Lady Samurai as Chief Downs
- 2007: Homo Erectus (also known as National Lampoon's The Stoned Age and Dawn of Sex) as Krutz
- 2007: Blizhniy Boy: The Ultimate Fighter as Wizard
- 2008: Beyond the Ring as Tony De Luca
- 2009: Hallettsville as Sheriff David Ketchum
- 2010: Freaky Saturday Night Fever (Short) as Boyie
- 2010: Down and Distance as Bo Vonarb
- 2011: Jenny (Short) as Gary
- 2011: Guido as Steve Kaufman
- 2012: Piranha 3DD as Clayton
- 2012: Lizzie as Andrew Borden
- 2012: Change of Heart (Short) as Movie star
- 2013: Matt's Chance as Bill
- 2013: Bounty Killer as Van Sterling
- 2014: Confessions of a Womanizer as Gary
- 2014: Behaving Badly as Chief Howard D. Lansing
- 2015: Entourage as Gary Busey
- 2015: Mansion of Blood as Zacharia
- 2016: Candiland as Arnie / God
- 2016: Mamaboy as Coach Dombrowski
- 2016: DaZe: Vol. Too (sic) - NonSeNse as Mr. Morris
- 2018: Camp Manna as Jack Cujo Parrish
- 1970: The High Chaparral; episode: "The Badge"
- 1971: Dan August; episode: "The Manufactured Man"
- 1972: Bonanza; episode: "The Hidden Enemy"
- 1973: Kung Fu; episode: "The Ancient Warrior"
- 1974: The Execution of Private Slovik (movie)
- 1974: The Law (movie)
- 1974–1975: The Texas Wheelers (all 8 episodes)
- 1975: Gunsmoke; episode: "The Busters"
- 1975: Baretta; episode: "On the Road"
- 1979: Saturday Night Live (March 10) (as himself / host)
- 1985: The Hitchhiker; episode: "W.G.O.D."
- 1997: Hawaii Five-O (unaired pilot)
- 1989: The Neon Empire (movie)
- 1991: Wild Texas Wind (TV movie)
- 1992: Chrome Soldiers (TV movie)
- 1993: Fallen Angels; episode: "Since I Don't Have You"
- 1997: Hawaii Five-O (movie)
- 1997: Rough Riders (miniseries)
- 1998: Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms (movie)
- 1998: The Girl Next Door (movie)
- 1999: Walker, Texas Ranger; episode: "Special Witness"
- 1999: Shasta McNasty; episode: "The Thanksgiving Show"
- 2000: The Outer Limits; episode: "Revival"
- 2000: The Huntress; episode: "What Ralph Left Behind"
- 2001: Law & Order; episode: "Formerly Famous" (as Tommy Vega)
- 2001: King of the Hill; episode: "Soldier of Misfortune" (voice)
- 2002: The Man Show; episode: "The Juggbournes" (as himself)
- 2003: Russians in the City of Angels (3 episodes)
- 2003: I'm with Busey (all 13 episodes) (as himself)
- 2004: Penn & Teller: Bulls***!; episode: "12 Stepping" (as himself)
- 2004–2005, 2007: Entourage; episodes: 1.6, 2.1, 4.8 (as himself)
- 2005: Yesenin (miniseries)
- 2005: The Simpsons; episode: "On a Clear Day I Can't See My Sister" (as himself) (voice)
- 2005: Into the West (miniseries)
- 2005: Celebrity Fit Club (USA) (season 2) (as himself / team member)
- 2006: Tom Goes to the Mayor; episode: "Wrestling") (voice of Coach Harris)
- 2006: Scrubs; episode: "My Missed Perception" (as Gary Busey lookalike)
- 2006: Celebrity Paranormal Project (all 9 episodes) (as himself)
- 2007: Maneater (movie)
- 2008: The Cho Show; episode: "Off the Grid") (as himself)
- 2008: Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew (season 2) (as himself/participant)
- 2009: Nite Tales: The Series; episode: "Trapped"
- 2009: The Comedy Central Roast of Larry the Cable Guy (as himself)
- 2011: Celebrity Apprentice 4 (as himself/contestant)
- 2011: Two and a Half Men; episode: "Frodo's Headshots" (as himself)
- 2012: truTV Presents: World's Dumbest... (as himself)
- 2012: Rove LA (4 episodes) (as himself)
- 2012: Celebrity Wife Swap (1 episode) (as himself)
- 2012–2013: Mr. Box Office (4 episodes)
- 2013: Celebrity Apprentice 6 (contestant)
- 2014: American Dad!; episode: "She Swill Survive" (as himself) (voice)
- 2014: Celebrity Big Brother 14 (contestant and winner)
- 2015: Dancing with the Stars (contestant)
- 2016: Sharknado: The 4th Awakens
- 2017: Impractical Jokers; episode: "Lady And The Tramp" (as himself)
- 2017: Impractical Jokers After Party; episode: "Dover And Out" (as himself)
- 2017: The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show; episode: "The Wrath of Hughes" (voice of future Mr. Peabody)
- 2018: The Last Sharknado: It's About Time
- 2018: Impractical Jokers; episode: "The Marathon Man" (as himself)
Awards and nominations
|1978||Los Angeles Film Critics Association||Best Actor||The Buddy Holly Story||3rd place|
|New Generation Award||Won|
|New York Film Critics Circle||Best Actor||2nd place|
|1979||Academy Awards||Best Actor in a Leading Role||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Motion Picture Actor – Musical/Comedy||Nominated|
|National Society of Film Critics||Best Actor||Won|
|1980||British Academy of Film and Television Arts||Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles||Nominated|
|1987||CableACE Awards||Actor in a Dramatic Series||The Hitchhiker||Won|
|2019||Pardon My Take - The Takies||Award Winning Listener||Living On Victorious Energy||Won|
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- Carp at AllMusic
- People May 15, 1989, pp. 65–68
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- "On a Clear Day I Can't See My Sister". The Simpsons. Season 16. Episode 11. June 3, 2005. Fox.
- "Turkish rush to embrace anti-US film". BBC News. February 10, 2006. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
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- Clement, Olivia. "Gary Busey to Star in Off-Broadway Musical Only Human". Playbill.com. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- Evans, Greg. "Gary Busey To Play God In Off Broadway Musical 'Only Human' This Fall". Deadline.com. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- BWW News Desk. "Gary Busey Is God In New Off-Broadway Musical ONLY HUMAN". Broadwayworld.com. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- Kreps, Daniel. "Gary Busey to Play the Role of God in Off-Broadway Musical". RollingStone.com. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- James Peragine. "First Photos: Gary Busey Introduces Son Luke". Retrieved August 15, 2017.
- Moran, W. Reed (July 5, 2001). "Gary Busey ministers to brain injury community". USA Today. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
- Cramberg, Joanne. "Tulsa's 'Bad Boy' Gary Busey Accepts Jesus". Retrieved April 29, 2013.
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- "Celebrity Rehab 2 with Dr. Drew (Episode 2)". Retrieved March 26, 2009.
- Kate Stanhope. "Gary Busey and Girlfriend Are Expecting". TVGuide.com. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
- Gary Busey Endorses Donald Trump for President. People Video. April 29, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
- Powers, Lindsay (April 18, 2011). "Gary Busey Endorses Donald Trump for President". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
- Glines, Carole (September 15, 2015). "Donald Trump gets coveted Gary Busey endorsement ahead of big debate". Fox News. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
- "'Two and a Half Men': Gary Busey joins as a mental patient – From Inside the Box – Zap2it". Blog.zap2it.com. November 4, 2011. Archived from the original on November 6, 2011. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
- "Hitman Promo Asks You to Kill Gary Busey or Gary Cole". Gamespot. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
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