Blog/All about Gary Busey's movies and life-changing accident
All about Gary Busey's movies and life-changing accident
7 min read

All about Gary Busey's movies and life-changing accident

7 min read
gary-busey-movies
Bernadette YounaSep 14, 2021

From the football pitch to the big screen, was Gary Busey's career-stopping accident a blessing in disguise? Thrillz has the story.

All about Gary Busey

William Gary Busey born in 1944, is a well known American actor originally from Oklahoma Texas. However, acting was never in Garys' career path, he formerly attended Pittsburg State University in Kansas on a football scholarship before he suffered from a serious knee injury, leading him to put a pause on his dreams in professional football.

While searching for a new hobby and career path, Gary unexpectedly took an interest in theatre which kick-started his musical profession. Before becoming the amazing actor he is today Gary began playing the drums in a band created by his fraternity brothers called the 'Rubber Band'. He also played in several different bands with the legendary Leon Russell, Willie Nelson and even Kris Kristofferson. Alongside his drumming gigs, Gary broke into the film and television world in 1967 when he featured as small uncredited roles in 'The Love-Ins' (1967) and 'Wild in the Streets' (1968).

Gary Busey (Image Credit: Wall Of Celebrities)
Gary Busey (Image Credit: Wall Of Celebrities)

Gary Busey Movies

The 1970s was the decade that took Garys' acting career to the next level, as he made his cinematic debut as the lead role in a biker film called 'Angels Hard as They Come' (released in 1971) starring Scott Glenn. During the late 1970s, he was also included on the big screen alongside his former band member Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand in the remake of 'A Star is Born'. The movie follows the story and relationship of a struggling female singer who falls in love with a famous rockstar, this was a breakout performance for Gary as it led him to star in more lead roles.

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Towards the end of the 1970s, Gary found himself starring in the film 'The Buddy Holly Story' (1978), which enabled him to showcase his musical background to the audience, as he was performing with his own vocals and guitar work. This movie took Gary’s career straight to the limelight as he was nominated for 'Best Actor In A Leading Role' at the Academy Awards because of his precise portrayal of the role. Many would argue that his acting was the reason the film was so successful and a fan favourite.

Some may say his life foreshadowed many of his acting roles, as he was once a musician and now is fulfilling roles with the same background. The movie also went on to win an Oscar for the 'Best Music' and the ‘Adaptation Of Sound’.

 Gary Busey and Kris Kristofferson in the 1976 film A Star Is Born (Image Credit: Irish Times)
Gary Busey and Kris Kristofferson in the 1976 film A Star Is Born (Image Credit: Irish Times)

Between the late 1970s and early 1980s, Gary found himself performing and taking part in a number of other films, television series and even started doing voiceovers. It wasn't until the late 1980s where he found himself in another large role for an exceptional movie 'Lethal Weapon' (released in 1987), working alongside the talented stars Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. The movie went on to win seven awards including an Oscar and two nominations, which was incredible for Gary as it took his career to the next level day by day.

In the 1990s Gary had a major setback due to his motorcycle accident but that didn't stop him as he had prominent supporting roles in very successful action movies such as:  ‘Predator 2’, ‘Under Siege’ and ‘Point Break’ with the cast of Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze.

Gary Busey in Point Break 1991 (Image Credit: The Guardian)
Gary Busey in Point Break 1991 (Image Credit: The Guardian)

In 2003 Gary starred in what some may argue as his greatest film role to date with his amazing performance in 'Quigley'. He plays the lead role of Archie Channing, who was known to be a vile billionaire that died and was reincarnated into a dog in order to atone for mistakes made in his life and to learn how to be compassionate.

The film Quigley is more than just a movie about a dog who was reincarnated, the film is about being kind to those who suffer, to be helpful and consider other people’s feelings. This is the incredible transformation that the character Archie Channing goes through to becoming a better person.

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The reason Gary Busey embodied the role of Archie Channing so well is because Archie’s story is a portrayal of Gary's life. He wasn't the nicest person to talk to, he used drugs, he didn't care about other people and their feelings. On top of that Gary Busey also died in real life following brain surgery, he went to the other side and received information from angels changing his views on life.

The afterlife

In 1988 Gary Busey was unfortunately a victim of a horrendous motorcycle accident to which he wasn't wearing his helmet. This left him with a fractured skull while also leaving him with permanent brain damage and no ability to censor himself. This accident completely changed Gary's mindset and how he functioned in everyday life, he claimed in an interview with The Guardian:

"I had an accident on a Harley-Davidson. I went off the bike without a helmet, hit my head into a curb, split my skull, passed away after brain surgery and went to the other side- the spiritual world where I got the information," he went on to say, "I came back, and these messages, these definitions, came to me first class. I'll think of a word and write the word down without thinking".

Gary Busey in Quigley 2003 (Image Credit: Proudly Resents)
Gary Busey in Quigley 2003 (Image Credit: Proudly Resents)

A couple of examples of the acronyms Gary came up with were 'faith' which he said stood for "Fantastic Adventurous in Trusting Him" and 'hope', which to him means "Heavenly Offerings Prevail Eternally". 

What was the other side like you ask? Well Gary Busey stated that he was 'surrounded by an angel or two with balls of light floating all around him', he has experienced things that others may never get to experience or 'see' and in this case, it's an angel and the spiritual feeling of connecting to the other side.

Gary was eventually discharged after his surgery and made an extraordinary recovery, he quickly returned back to the spotlight and carried on filming several new movies and TV shows.

He went to the other side and received information from angels (Imagine Credit: NBC News)
He went to the other side and received information from angels (Imagine Credit: NBC News)

Gary Busey did not only survive a motorcycle accident, in 1995 he was hospitalised after overdosing on cocaine. His addiction started right after he had filmed the movie 'The Buddy Holly Story', he said to NBC News: "I tried it, and I got hooked bad. I became a cocaine addict for several years". 

After his overdose, he decided to change his general views on life and was on a search to help himself understand religion. Having experienced what the other side was like completely reformed Gary and his faith in God.

Gary and Jake Busey (Image Credit: The Today Show)
Gary and Jake Busey (Image Credit: The Today Show)

Since then Gary has been on a road to recovery while dedicating his life to the Christian faith by joining the Promise Keepers. The Promise Keepers are an Evangelical Christian parish for men who are committed to Jesus through worship, prayer and obedience to God’s word. He felt like he was safe and free when he was around the company of his Parish’s new found friends.

Happy wife, happy life?

Gary hasn't always had the best luck when it came to relationships, he was first married in 1968 to Judy Helkenberg, who in 1971 gave birth to their son William Jacob Busey. Shortly after, the couple decided to divorce in the mid 1990s. William Jacob (Jake) Busey has since followed in his fathers footsteps also becoming an actor, he has featured in many movies and TV series and is best known for playing Bruce in 'Stranger Things'.

Gary with his partner Steffanie Sampson (Image Credit: Earn The Necklace)
Gary with his partner Steffanie Sampson (Image Credit: Earn the necklace)

He remarried a few years later to the American actress Tiani Warden, the couple divorced in 2001 after they both claimed to have had a toxic and abusive marriage. In 2006 Gary met his now long-term partner Steffanie Sampson, the two have been dating since 2008 but have still not decided to tie the knot just yet.

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Gary's life today

Today, he is currently living at his home in Malibu, California with his wife Steffanie. The now 77 year old still has his amazing nest of ash-blond hair, his piercing blue eyes and white pearly teeth. 

Gary Busey on 'Pet Judge' (Image Credit: Rare US)
Gary Busey on 'Pet Judge' (Image Credit: Rare US)

He has most recently featured and become part of a new TV show called 'Gary Busey: Pet Judge', a comedy show about owners who have lost control of their animals, which can be found on Amazon Prime. The show went live on May 25th 2020, streaming six episodes. It is a great watch if you're an animal lover and want a laugh.

Everything Gary has been through in his life has shaped him to become the unique and better person that he is today.

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Bernadette Youna
Bernadette YounaContent Creator
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