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William Gareth Jacob "Gary" Busey (born June 29, 1944) is an American film and stage actor and artist. He is most famous for his roles in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Buddy Holly Story, Big Wednesday, Lethal Weapon, Point Break, The Firm, Surviving the Game, Predator 2, Black Sheep, Rookie of the Year, Drop Zone, The Gingerdead Man and Under Siege.

Personal life

Busey was born in Goose Creek marker, Texasmarker, the son of Sadie Virginia (née Arnett), a homemaker, and Delmer Lloyd Busey, a construction design manager. He graduated from Nathan Hale High School in Tulsa, Oklahomamarker in 1962. While attending Pittsburg State Universitymarker in Pittsburgmarker, Kansasmarker on a football scholarship, he became interested in acting. He is listed as one of the university's "outstanding alumni." He then transferred to Oklahoma State Universitymarker in Stillwatermarker, where he quit school just one class short of graduation.

In 1971, wife Judy Helkenberg gave birth to his son, William Gareth Jacob Busey, Jr., now known as actor Jake Busey. Busey and Judy divorced when Jake was nineteen.

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. Busey has spoken out as being a Christian as a result of his near-death experience.


Busey began his show-business career as a drummer in "The Rubber Duck 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, Oklahomamarker called The Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting (which starred fellow Tulsan Gailard Sartain as "Dr. Mazeppa Pompazoidi"). He played in a band called Carp, who 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 the last episode, No. 633 - "The Los Carnales").

In 1978, he starred as Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story with Sartain as The Big Bopper. The movie earned Busey an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. 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 critically-acclaimed surfing movie Big Wednesday.

In the 1980s, Busey's roles included Silver Bullet (adapted from Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King), 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).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 and on the Late Show with David Letterman in the 1990s.

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

Gary Busey appeared in the 2006 Turkishmarker film, Valley of the Wolves Iraq, (Kurtlar Vadisi: Irak, in Turkish). The film, accused of anti-Americanism,and anti-Semitism, tells the story of the U.S. Army run amok in Iraqmarker, and brought into check by a brave Turkish soldier; Gary Busey plays a Jewish-American Army doctor who harvests fresh organs from injured Iraqi prisoners to sell to rich patients in New Yorkmarker, Londonmarker and Tel Avivmarker.

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

During the E! broadcast of the 80th Academy Awards red carpet pre-show, he interrupted host Ryan Seacrest's interview with Jennifer Garner and Laura Linney. It was widely reported that Busey proceeded to give Garner a hug and kissed her neck, to which Garner expressed her distaste moments later.

Busey recently took part in a photo shoot done by photographer Tyler Shields where Busey was put in a straitjacket. The shoot was reportedly for Shields' book The Dirty Side of Glamour, the proceeds from which are to be given to charity. A reporter from Inside Edition was there to cover the shoot and speak with Busey about his upcoming projects but the program instead edited together raw clips from the interview.

The video clip and its many offshoots and re-edits have made their way around the net. Posted on sites such as, and the photographer's own site The clip has also been featured extensively on the E! networks' The Soup, hosted by Joel McHale, replaying Busey's line "I'm going to pull out your endocrine system out of your body," numerous times for comedic effect.

Busey also starred in several advertisements for the video game Saints Row 2, entitled "Street Lessons with Uncle Gary".

Busey appears in several short videos for GotVMail Communications called Gary Busey on Business, featuring Busey's thoughts on new business ideas, excuses for missing work, and business cliches like Think Outside the Box and Now More Than Ever.

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. Host 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 was previously addicted to cocaine, but has been sober for 13 years. In a conversation with model Amber Smith, being treated for a pain killer addiction, he revealed several acronyms related to religion and sobriety, which he called "Busey-isms," and stated his intention to compile them into a book. These included "Gone: Getting Over Negative Energy," "Faith: Fantastic Adventures In Trusting Him," "Sober: Son Of aBitch Everything's Real," "Fraud: Finding Relevant Answers Under Deception," and "Freedom: Facing Real Exciting Energy Developing Out of Miracles." In a talking head interview recorded later, Smith expressed appreciation for Busey's knowledge and enthusiasm, but also felt he was "crazier than [she] is."

At Pinsky's recommendation, Busey was seen at the facility 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. He recommended Busey take a medication called Depakote, to which he agreed.

In 2009, he was a roaster at the Comedy Central roast of Larry the Cable Guy.



Video games


  1. Gary Busey Biography (1923)
  2. Carp at Allmusic
  3. People Weekly, May 15, 1989, pp. 65–68
  4. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Turkish rush to embrace anti-US film
  5. Turkish Film Uproar: Attacking the American Enemy on Screen - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News
  6. Inside Edition
  7. Welcome -
  8. Tyler Shields

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