Timothy Busfield

Timothy Busfield (born June 12, 1957) is an American actor and director. He has played Elliot Weston on the television series thirtysomething; Mark, Kevin Costner's brother-in-law in Field of Dreams; and Danny Concannon on the television series The West Wing. In 1991 he received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for thirtysomething. He is also the founder of the 501(c)(3) non-profit children's theatre Fantasy Theatre for Children and B Street Theatre.

Timothy Busfield
Born (1957-06-12) June 12, 1957
ResidenceNew York City
Alma materEast Tennessee State University
OccupationActor, director
Years active1984–present
Known forThirtysomething, The West Wing
  • Radha Delamarter
    (m. 1982; div. 1986)
  • Jennifer Merwin
    (m. 1988; div. 2007)
  • Melissa Gilbert (m. 2013)

Early life and education

Busfield was born June 12, 1957, in Lansing, Michigan, the son of drama professor Roger and secretary Jean Busfield. He graduated from East Lansing High School in 1975. [1][2] He landed his first professional acting job at 18 in a children's theater adaptation of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Busfield studied drama at East Tennessee State University and traveled frequently with the Actors Theater of Louisville, which took him to Europe and Israel. In 1981, he moved to New York City, NY, where he joined the Circle Repertory Company for their production of Lanford Wilson's "Talley and Son." That same year, he landed his first film role with a bit part as a mortar-bearing soldier in the comedy classic, "Stripes" (1981).[3]


More stage work followed, including a stint as understudy to Matthew Broderick in "Brighton Beach Memoirs" in 1982. The following year, Busfield relocated to Los Angeles to join the cast of "Reggie" (ABC, 1983), a short-lived comedy based on the British television series "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin" (BBC, 1976-79). The year 1984 proved to be a busy one for Busfield; not only did he land his first substantial film role as Arnold Poindexter, the goofiest of the geek fraternity brothers in the hit comedy Revenge of the Nerds (1984) and its 1987 sequel, but he joined the cast of the long-running drama "Trapper John, M.D." (CBS, 1979-1986), starring as the son of Pernell Roberts' Trapper John McIntyre. He held the role until the series' conclusion in 1986.

Following the demise of "Trapper John," he joined forces with his brother Buck to create the Fantasy Theatre, a professional touring company for children's audiences - and later Honorary State Children's Theater for California - based in his new hometown of Sacramento, CA. The Busfields also established the award-winning B Street Theater there in 1992, which was devoted to more adult productions. The following year, Busfield was cast as Elliot on "thirtysomething." The part was his first mature role to date, and the producers requested that he grow a beard to help sell his image as a married man and father. Over the course of the hit Yuppie show's three-season run, Elliot came to personify the best and worst aspects of the series: a successful advertising executive and father, Elliot also infuriated his friends and family (and viewers) with his marital infidelity and competitive streak with partner Michael Steadman (Ken Olin), all of which went on while his wife Nancy (Patricia Wettig) struggled with ovarian cancer. Despite his character's unpleasant tendencies, Busfield brought humor and honesty to the role, and was nominated three times for an Emmy before winning one in 1991, shortly before conflicts between the producers and cast brought the show to an abrupt conclusion.

Busfield had remained exceptionally busy during his "thirtysomething" stint, appearing as the nominal villain in the popular Kevin Costner fantasy "Field of Dreams" in 1989, and in 1990, replacing Tom Hulce as the lead in "A Few Good Men," a smash Broadway production written by Aaron Sorkin, with whom he would later enjoy fruitful collaborations. He also made his directorial debut with a 1990 episode of "thirtysomething," and would helm three episodes of the series before it ran its course. Roles in television features and theatrical films followed, including supporting turns in "Sneakers" (1992), "Quiz Show" (1994) and the likable kids' fantasy "Little Big League" (1994), which allowed Busfield to show off his baseball skills as the first baseman for the Minnesota Twins (an avowed baseball fan, Busfield occasionally served as pitcher in several minor league games). His character, Lou Collins, was loosely based on Twins legend Kent Hrbek. Hrbek would serve as a consultant on the film and he and Busfield became friends.

Busfield returned to network television several times during the late 1990s for high profile shows that never quite caught on with viewers. He was the patriarch of the Byrd clan, which moved from Connecticut to Hawaii in the Steven Bochco-produced "Byrds of Paradise" (ABC, 1993-94), and starred as one of a group of former high school jocks still clinging to their glory days in "Champs" (ABC, 1996) for Ron Howard.

By the late 1990s, Busfield was dividing his time between acting and directing for television, helming multiple episodes of several shows, including Sorkin's "Sports Night" (ABC, 1998-2000), as well as "Ed" (NBC, 2000-04), for which he also served as associate producer and guest star (as Ed's down-on-his-luck brother Lloyd). During this period, Busfield also began his recurring role as Pulitzer Prize-winning White House correspondent - and love interest to Allison Janney's C.J. Cregg - Danny Concannon on "The West Wing." He would appear sporadically on the show throughout its entire network run.[4]

Busfield kept a foot on both sides of the camera from 2000 on; directing and executive producing the successful CBS drama "Without a Trace" (2002- ) and appearing occasionally as the wheelchair-bound divorce attorney for Anthony LaPaglia's Jack Malone. He also directed episodes of "Las Vegas" (NBC, 2003- ), "Damages" (FX, 2007- ), and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." On the latter, he squeezed in time to co-star on the short-lived Aaron Sorkin series as Cal Shanley, the occasionally nerve-plagued control director for the program's self-titled show-within-a-show. Though that show went spectacularly down in flames, despite much marketing as the "next big thing," in 2007, Busfield moved on, serving as executive producer of the Brooke Shields-led drama, "Lipstick Jungle" (NBC, 2008-2009 ).

In 2019, Guest Artist, directed by Busfield, premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The film is written by, and stars Jeff Daniels. Guest Artist was shot on location in New York City, and in Daniels' hometown of Chelsea, MI. This film marks the launch of Grand River Productions, a production company with Daniels, Busfield, and Melissa Gilbert.[5]

Stage and theater

Busfield remains a stage actor and director whose Broadway credits include A Few Good Men and Brighton Beach Memoirs, where he was star Matthew Broderick's understudy[6]. Off-Broadway, he worked with Circle Repertory Company in 1982. With elder brother Buck Busfield, he is co-founder of the B Street Theater in Sacramento, California,[7] where he has appeared in and directed numerous contemporary works. The Busfield brothers also established Fantasy Theater, a touring troupe that plays to children. Busfield writes children's plays for the Fantasy troupe.

Timothy Busfield Professional Theatre
  • 1979- Various roles, The Green Mountain Guild Theatre for Children (actor)
  • 1979- Thidwick The Big Hearted Moose, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville-ATL (act)
  • 1979- A Christmas Carol, ATL, (act)
  • 1979- Commencement (various roles), ATL (act)
  • 1980- They’re Coming To Make It Brighter, ATL Humana Festival (act)
  • 1980- The Green Mountain Guild Theatre For Children (act/director)
  • 1980- Getting Out, ATL International Tour w/Susan Kingsley (act)
  • 1980- Cyrano de Bergerac, ATL (act)
  • 1980- Shorts (various roles), ATL (act)
  • 1981- Park City Midnight, ATL Humana Festival (act)
  • 1981- Propinquity, ATL Humana Festival (act)
  • 1981- Spades, ATL Humana Festival (act)
  • 1981- A**hole Murder Case, ATL Humana Festival (act)
  • 1981- A Life, The Long Wharf Theatre (act)
  • 1981- A Tale Told, The Mark Taper Forum (act)
  • 1982- Richard II, Circle Repertory Company (act)
  • 1982- The First Annual Young Playwright’s Festival, Circle Rep (act, various roles)
  • 1982- The Holdup, Circle Rep (act)
  • 1982- Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Ahmanson
  • 1983- Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Curren (SF) And The Alvin (Broadway) (act)
  • 1986- Theatre for Children, Inc., (Fantasy Theatre) (Producing Director 1986-2001)
  • 1986- Fantasy Fables, (dir/co-writer)
  • 1987- Fantasy Classics, (dir/co-Writer)
  • 1987- Fantasy Americana, (dir/co-Writer)
  • 1988- Fantasy of Horrors, (co-writer)
  • 1988- Fantasy Festival II, (dir)
  • 1988- Fantasy of Franks, (dir/co-writer)
  • 1989- William Shakespeare V The Fantasy Theatre (dir/co-writer)
  • 1989- By George! (co-writer)
  • 1990- The Bark of Zorro the Musical (co-writer book)
  • 1990- A Few Good Men, Broadway (act)
  • 1992- B Street Theatre (Producing Director 1992-2001)
  • 1992- Mass Appeal (act), B St. Theatre
  • 1992- Hidden In This Picture w/Aaron Sorkin, (act/dir), B. St.
  • 1992- Talley’s Folly (act/dir), B. St
  • 1993- Fool For Love (act)
  • 1993- Private Wars (act)
  • 1994- A Couple of White Chicks (dir)
  • 1994- The Agent (act/dir)
  • 1994- The Holdup (dir)
  • 1994- Criminal Hearts (dir)
  • 1995- National Anthems (act/dir)
  • 1996- Below The Belt (act)
  • 1997- Vigil (act)
  • 1998- The Motor Trade (act/dir)
  • 1998- Vigil (act)
  • 1999- Boomtown (act/dir)
  • 2000- Escanaba in Da Moonlight (act)
  • 2008- Vigil (act), Westport Country Playhouse
  • 2012- Vigil (act, dir), Lansing Community College
  • 2017- 24 hour plays, Minneapolis

Personal life

Busfield was married to actress and director Radha Delamarter before divorcing in 1986. The couple had a son, Willy.[2] In 1988 he married fashion designer Jennifer Merwin, with whom he had children Daisy and Samuel.[2] They filed for divorce in 2007.[8]

A representative for Busfield said in January 2013 that Busfield had become engaged to actress Melissa Gilbert over the holiday season.[9] They were married April 24, 2013, in a private ceremony at San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California.[10] Busfield and Gilbert resided in Howell, Michigan, from 2013 to 2018 [11] but moved to New York City late in 2018.[12] During the 2016–17 academic year, Busfield served as an artist in residence at Michigan State University.[13]


Television & Movie

As actor
Year Title Role Notes
1984 Revenge of the Nerds Arnold Poindexter Reprised role in 1987 sequel
1984 AfterMASH Prentiss Episode: "C.Y.A."
1984 Family Ties Doug Episode: "Little Man on Campus"
1984–1986 Trapper John, M.D. Dr. John 'J.T.' McIntyre, Jr., M.D. 39 episodes
1987–1991 Thirtysomething Elliot Weston 85 episodes
1991 Strays Paul Jarrett Television film
1993–1994 The Byrds of Paradise Sam Byrd 12 episodes
1994 Little Big League Lou Collins
1995 The Outer Limits Dr. Jon Holland Episode: "Under the Bed"
1996 First Kid Agent Woods Disney
1999–2006 The West Wing Danny Concannon 28 episodes
2006–2007 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Cal Shanley 22 episodes
2011 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Daniel Carter Episode: "Russian Brides"
2012 Blue Bloods Charles Bynes Episode: "Leap of Faith"
2014–2015 Sleepy Hollow Benjamin Franklin[14] 3 episodes
2015 Secrets and Lies John Garner 4 episodes
2018–2019 Designated Survivor Dr. Adam Louden 4 episodes
2019 The Loudest Voice Neil Mullin 1 episodes
2019 Heartstrings TBA Episode: "Sugar Hill"[15]
As director


  1. "Today in history". ABC News. Associated Press. June 12, 2014.
  2. "Timothy Busfield Biography (1957 - )". FilmReference.com. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  3. TIMOTHY BUSFIELD: Guest Artist of Media Acting (2013-2016). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://theatre.msu.edu/people/guest-artists-series/timothy-busfield/
  4. TIMOTHY BUSFIELD: Guest Artist of Media Acting (2013-2016). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://theatre.msu.edu/people/guest-artists-series/timothy-busfield/
  5. Hipes, Mike Fleming Jr,Patrick; Jr, Mike Fleming; Hipes, Patrick (2019-02-07). "Jeff Daniels, Timothy Busfield & Melissa Gilbert Launch Grand River Productions". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  6. "Brighton Beach Memoirs – Broadway Play – Original | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  7. "About B Street - B Street Theatre". bstreettheatre.org. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  8. ""Thirtysomething" Star Divorcing". TMZ.com. December 11, 2007. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  9. Jordan, Julie; Shira, Dahvi (January 29, 2013). "Melissa Gilbert Engaged to Thirtysomething's Timothy Busfield". People. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  10. Nudd, Tim; Jordan, Julie (April 25, 2013). "Melissa Gilbert Weds Timothy Busfield". People. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  11. Moorehouse, Buddy (August 5, 2013). "Hollywood comes to Howell: Gilbert and Busfield are the biggest stars we've had, but not the first". thelivingstonpost.com. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  12. "Estate sale planned as Melissa Gilbert, Timothy Busfield leave Michigan". Detroit Free Press. July 9, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  13. "Actor Tim Busfield preparing MSU students for real life". Detroit Free Press. June 21, 2016. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  14. Klutzy_girl. "Sleepy Hollow - Season 2 - Casting News - Timothy Busfield to recur as Benjamin Franklin". spoilertv.com. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  15. Iannucci, Rebecca (February 11, 2019). "Sarah Shahi, Scandal's Bellamy Young, thirtysomething Alums and More Join Netflix's Dolly Parton Anthology". TVLine.
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