Gary Busey

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Gary Busey

Busey at CUN2008 Oscar party
BornWilliam Gary Busey
(1944-06-29) June 29, 1944 (age 68)
Goose Creek, Texas, U.S.
Years active1968–present
Spouse(s)Tiani Warden (1996–2001; divorced)
Judy Helkenberg (1968–90; divorced)
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Gary Busey

Busey at CUN2008 Oscar party
BornWilliam Gary Busey
(1944-06-29) June 29, 1944 (age 68)
Goose Creek, Texas, U.S.
Years active1968–present
Spouse(s)Tiani Warden (1996–2001; divorced)
Judy Helkenberg (1968–90; divorced)

William Gary Busey[1] (born June 29, 1944), best known as Gary Busey, is an American film and stage actor, and artist. He has appeared in a large variety of films, most notably in the 1980s and 1990s in major action releases such as Lethal Weapon, Point Break, and Under Siege, as well as making guest appearances on Gunsmoke, Walker, Texas Ranger, Law & Order, and Entourage. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1978 for his role in The Buddy Holly Story.


Early life

Busey was born in Goose Creek (now Baytown), 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 (located in southeastern Kansas) on a football scholarship, he became interested in acting.[3] He then transferred to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, where he quit school just one class short of graduation.


Busey began his show-business career as a drummer in The Rubber Band.[citation needed] He appears on several Leon Russell recordings, credited as playing drums under the names "Teddy Jack Eddy"[4] and "Sprunk",[citation needed] 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 characer 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 antepenultimate episode, No. 633 – "The Busters").

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 Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story with Sartain as The Big Bopper. The movie earned Busey an Academy Award nomination 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.[citation needed] In the same year he also starred in the surfing movie Big Wednesday.

In the 1980s, Busey's roles included Silver Bullet, Barbarosa, Insignificance and Lethal Weapon. In the movie D.C. Cab, Busey portrayed the character Dell. At one point, Dell is singing along with a cassette recording of Busey singing the song "Why Baby Why" (which Busey recorded, but still remains unreleased).[6] In the 1990s, he appeared in Predator 2, Rookie of the Year, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Under Siege, The Firm, Lost Highway, Point Break and Black Sheep.

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

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.[citation needed] He also voiced himself on a 2005 episode of The Simpsons, narrating an informational video about restraining orders.[8]

Busey appeared in the 2006 Turkish nationalist film Valley of the Wolves: Iraq, (Kurtlar Vadisi: Irak, in Turkish). The film, accused of fascism, anti-Americanism[9] and anti-Semitism,[10] tells the story of the U.S. Army run amok in Iraq and brought into check by a Turkish soldier; Busey plays a Jewish-American Army doctor who harvests fresh organs from injured Iraqi prisoners to sell to rich patients in New York City, London and Tel Aviv.

Busey in Kazakhstan, 2007.

In 2007, he appeared as himself on HBO's Entourage. Producers at HBO asked[citation needed] Busey to play a "character" on the show who was the self-named actor who is also a famous painter and sculptor.

In 2008, he joined the second season of the reality show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Per his contract and VH1's press release, he was to be part of the mentoring team and not a patient.[11] Drew Pinsky has expressed a different opinion, saying that he can help by being in group meetings with others and is not part of the staff, but part of the patients of this second season. Busey returned to reality television in Celebrity Apprentice 4, which premiered in March 2011.[12]

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

The following year, a whirlwind of rumors flew around Hollywood that Busey had been fired from horror movie Mansion of Blood from Elusive Entertainment. Rather, according to Busey's publicist, Michael Conley, Busey stars as Zacharia in the indy film from Elusive Entertainment. In fact, Conley says, "The Producers were so happy with Gary's performance that they even called a "press conference" arranged by the movie's unit publicist, Liz Rodriguez, held by her and the "Mansion" producer team from historical Hollywood & Highland to officially exonerate Gary of any allegations that he had been fired and praised Gary's performance in the upcoming movie."[14]

Personal life

Busey in September 2007


In 1971, Busey's wife Judy Helkenberg gave birth to their son, William Jacob "Jake" Busey. Busey and Judy divorced when Jake was nineteen.

Busey has a daughter named Alectra from a previous relationship.[15]

On December 9, 2009, it was announced that Gary Busey and girlfriend Steffanie Sampson were expecting their first child in May 2010. On February 23, 2010, their son Luke Sampson Busey was born.[16]


Media reports claimed that Busey is a Christian and active minister in Promise Keepers.[17] Promise Keepers says that this is incorrect, that it was never contacted for verification of this false claim, and stated on its website that "There is a story circulating through the media that Gary Busey is a minister at Promise Keepers... This is false." (It was later discovered that the incorrect report came from a spoof in the satirical website The Onion.)[18]

Motorcycle accident and brain damage

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.[19]

At the recommendation of Dr. Drew Pinsky, Busey was seen by 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 a medication called Depakote (valproic acid), to which Busey agreed.[20]

Legal issues

In May 1995, Busey was arrested for cocaine possession after being hospitalized for an overdose of cocaine and GHB.[21]

On August 20, 1997, Busey was accused of pushing a stewardess who bumped him on a flight to Las Vegas. Upon the flight's landing, he was questioned by police, but no charges were filed.[21]

On January 25, 1999, Busey was arrested after a fight with his wife. He was released on bail.[21]

On December 2, 2001, Busey was again arrested for spousal abuse after his ex-wife Tiani Warden called authorities, complaining he left her bruised. Busey was released on $50,000 bail.[21]

On September 7, 2004, Busey's landlord filed a lawsuit to evict him because Busey had refused to pay his rent for about three months.[21]

On September 23, 2004, Busey was arrested for showing up late to a spousal support court hearing. His lawyer bailed him out 150 minutes later.[21]

In February 2012, Busey filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, with reported liabilities of $500,000 to $1,000,000.[22]



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. ^
  8. ^ "On a Clear Day I Can't See My Sister". The Simpsons. episode 11. season 16. 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.,1518,402432,00.html. Retrieved January 7, 2012. 
  11. ^ Archive of "Celebs Check Into Rehab 2 With Dr. Drew", 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". ABA Journal. American Bar Association. 
  14. ^ "Funny Gary Busey "Masion of Blood" press conference – Phamous Fotos". YouTube. July 8, 2011. Retrieved January 7, 2012. 
  15. ^ James Peragine. "First Photos: Gary Busey Introduces Son Luke". 
  16. ^ Kate Stanhope. "Gary Busey and Girlfriend Are Expecting". 
  17. ^ Liz Raftery (September 21, 2011). "Ted Haggard to Play Celebrity Wife Swap". People.,,20530368,00.html?hpt=hp_t2. Retrieved September 21, 2011. 
  18. ^ Promise Keepers (October 3, 2011). "Promise Keepers". Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  19. ^ Moran, W. Reed (July 5, 2001). "Gary Busey ministers to brain injury community". USA Today. Retrieved August 5, 2007. 
  20. ^ "Celebrity Rehab 2 with Dr. Drew , Episode 2 ,". Retrieved March 26, 2009. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f "Gary Busey". 
  22. ^
  23. ^ "'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