Gary Busey

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William Gary Busey (born June 29, 1944 in Goose Creek, Texas) is an Academy Award-nominated American film and stage actor. He has appeared in a number of films, including The Buddy Holly Story, Big Wednesday, Lethal Weapon, Point Break and Under Siege.


Busey attended Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, where he became interested in acting. He is listed as one of the university's "outstanding alumni." He then transferred to Oklahoma State University, where he quit school just one class short of graduation.

In 1971, wife Judy Helkenberg gave birth to his son, actor Jake Busey. The couple divorced sixteen years later.

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 had been a heavy drug user and in 1995 almost died from a cocaine overdose. Only prompt medical attention saved his life; he narrowly escaped going to jail. Busey reported that he suffered a terrifying near-death experience in which he saw hell and the devil. He announced he had become a born-again Christian, joined Promise Keepers and preached against drug abuse.

He has coined several "Buseyisms," which are backronyms, usually intended to be inspirational. For example, the word "sober" becomes "Son Of a Bitch! Everything's Real," while "doubt" becomes "Debating On Understanding Bewildering Thoughts." "Romance" becomes "Relying On Magnificent And Necessary Compatible Energy," team becomes, "Together Everyone Achieves More," "Faith" becomes "Fantastic Adventures In Trusting Him," and "Fear" becomes "False Evidence Appearing Real." On July 19, 2005, he appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and gave an extended explanation of his phrase "hidden reality revealed."

One of his more perplexing Buseyisms was "try" meaning "tomorrow's really yesterday". Busey explains on I'm With Busey that when you say you'll "try", you're really just lying to yourself, having already decided in your mind that you're never going to attempt that which you claim you'll "try." Thus, all the poor decisions you made yesterday, you'll continue to make tomorrow.

Busey is also well known for his eccentric personality, beliefs and individual outlook on life.


He 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 name "Teddy Jack Eddy", 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(which starred fellow Tulsan Gailard Sartain as "Dr. Mazeppa Pompazoidi"). 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 Busters").

In 1978, he starred as Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. In the same year he also starred in the critically-acclaimed surfing movie Big Wednesday.

In the 1980s, Busey's roles included D.C. Cab, Silver Bullet (adapted from Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King), and Lethal Weapon. In the 1990s, he appeared in Predator 2, Point Break, Rookie of the Year, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Under Siege, and The Firm.

In 2003, Busey was the star of a bizarre but short-lived Comedy Central show about his day-to-day activities entitled I'm with Busey.

In 2005, Busey played a fictional version of himself as a guest voice on The Simpsons. Appearing in a police information video, Busey explains restraining orders to the viewer, peppering his lecture with bouts of loud laughter. In the video, he claims that the reason he knows so much about restraining orders is because he has been the subject of twelve of them for the crime of "being too real." Busey also cameoed in an Episode of Scrubs.

In 2006, Busey played a lead role in the controversial Turkish action film Valley of the Wolves Iraq as an anti-Semitic caricature: a Jewish doctor conspiring with renegade American soldiers in occupied Iraq to steal the organs from slain or captured Iraqis and sell them on the black market. This role brought him a fair amount of infamy, as he was charged with advancing a form of the medieval blood libel. Busey also guest starred on an episode of Tom Goes To The Mayor (which according to the creators Tim and Eric was a "nightmare") and an episode of Entourage, "Busey and the Beach."

Selected Filmography

  • The Buddy Holly Story (1978)
  • Big Wednesday (1978)
  • Carny (1980)
  • D.C. Cab (1983)
  • Silver Bullet (1985)
  • Lethal Weapon (1988)
  • Predator 2 (1990)
  • Point Break (1991)
  • Under Siege (1992)
  • The Firm (1993)
  • Rookie of the Year (1993)
  • Surviving the Game (1994)
  • Drop Zone (1994)
  • Black Sheep (1996)
  • Carried Away (1996)
  • Lost Highway (1997)
  • Soldier (1998)
  • Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)
  • Down And Dirty (2000)
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (VG, voice) (2002) as Phil Cassidy
  • The Prize Fighter (2003)
  • The Gingerdead Man (2005)
  • Valley of the Wolves Iraq (2006)
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (VG, voice) (2006) as Phil Cassidy
  • Maneater (2006)
  • Hallettsville (2006)
  • Crying 4 U (2006)
  • Lady Samurai (2007)
  • Blizhniy Boy: The Ultimate Fighter (2007)
  • Glubina (2007)

Television appearances

  • Celebrity Paranormal Project (VH1, 2006)
  • I'm with Busey (Comedy Central, 2003)
  • Celebrity Fit Club 2 (VH1; Busey lost 39 pounds)
  • Entourage ("Busey and the Beach". Season 1, Episode 6.)
  • The Simpsons (On a Clear Day I Can't See My Sister, season 16, episode 11)
  • Walker Texas Ranger
  • Scrubs (A running joke that Sarah Chalke bears a resemblance)
  • Kung Fu (Season 1, Episode 15 (Ancient Warrior); Busey plays 'Josh')
  • Tom Goes to the Mayor
  • High Chaparall
  • The Man Show
  • Gunsmoke

External links