William Gary Busey (born June 29, 1944) is an American actor of film and television.
A prolific character actor, Busey has appeared in over 150 films, including Lethal Weapon (1987), Predator 2 (1990), Point Break (1991), Under Siege (1992), The Firm (1993), Carried Away (1996), Black Sheep (1996), Lost Highway (1997), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), The Gingerdead Man (2005) and Piranha 3DD (2012). Busey also made guest appearances on television shows such as Gunsmoke, Walker, Texas Ranger, Law & Order, Scrubs, and Entourage.
For portraying Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story (1978), Busey was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor.
Why is he on the site? 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 had suffered brain damage. And during the time he was in hospital he had a near death experience, which fundamentally changed his outlook on life. The observation describes this in more detail, and we have included links to two youtube videos of him describing the accident and the aftermath.
Life before the NDE
Busey was born in Goose Creek, Texas, 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, Oklahoma, in 1962. While attending Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, on a football scholarship, he became interested in acting. He then transferred to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he quit school just one class short of graduation.
Busey began his show business career as a drummer in The Rubber Band. He also played in a band called Carp, which 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-last episode, No. 633 – "The Busters").
In 1974, Busey made his major film debut with a supporting role in Michael Cimino's buddy action caper Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges. 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. In 1978, he starred in the small yet acclaimed drama Straight Time and the surfing movie Big Wednesday, which is now a minor cult classic.
In the 1980s, Busey's roles included the critically acclaimed western Barbarosa, the comedies D.C. Cab and Insignificance, and the Stephen King adaptation Silver Bullet. He played one of the primary antagonists opposite Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the action comedy Lethal Weapon. As his own website says “His pivotal performance as a villain in Lethal Weapon earned him the attention of a new generation, and the concept of being hired to play villains.”
Gary Busey’s near death experience – the aftermath
In December 1988, Busey almost died from a near fatal motorcycle accident which left him comatose for three months. After regaining consciousness, and with the help of his family he re-learned how to eat, walk and talk. Immediately after his recovery he began working again, with his first film being the cult classic Point Break. In the 1990s, he had prominent supporting roles in successful action films such as Predator 2, Point Break and Under Siege. He also appeared in Rookie of the Year, The Firm, Black Sheep, Lost Highway, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. But Gary Busey realised he no longer had the heart to play villains with any relish.
After his head injury he met at the White House with Bill Clinton, with whom he helped create language for the “Traumatic Brain Injury Act “. This significant act was instrumental in passing the Helmet Law in California.
The amazing changes that have taken place in Gary’s outlook as a consequence of the NDE have resulted in one commentator saying "As a result of his NDE, Busey has dedicated his life to Jesus and has been a prominent speaker at many Christian Promise Keepers rallies. He is no longer the "bad boy" of Hollywood. " In 1996, Busey publicly announced that he was a Christian, saying: "I am proud to tell Hollywood I am a Christian. For the first time I am now free to be myself."
Before his NDE Busey confessed his life raged out of control after he became hooked on cocaine. “I’d never tried it before and I tried it and bam, whoa,” he told the Oprah Winfrey Network. “I was taken by the addiction.” On May 3, 1995, the actor overdosed on the drug and nearly died. Now, he says he doesn’t touch cocaine. “Cocaine was my devil that I danced with in my life,” he says. “The devil has been sent away and now I dance with nothing but angels.”
The impact also had a profound effect on his personal life as well. His first wife, Judy Helkenberg, was a cheerleader he met at university and married in 1968. In 1971, Busey's wife gave birth to their son, William Jacob "Jake" Busey. Busey and Helkenberg divorced. Busey was twice accused of abuse by his second wife, Tiani, a former exotic dancer, and he spent the night in jail after one violent fight at their Malibu home. They were divorced in 2000. He also has a daughter with another girlfriend, Tracy Hutchinson.
But in February 2010, Busey's fiancee Steffanie Sampson gave birth to their son, Luke Sampson Busey. Busy now says he is a family man. In 2012 after his son Luke was afflicted with Kawasaki Disease,he started the “Busey Foundation For Children’s Kawasaki Disease” to raise awareness of this ailment, with the goal of raising awareness, and helping families in need.
All the positive life affirming changes in Gary, however, have produced a very nasty negative atheistic reaction. During the filming of the second season of Celebrity Rehab in 2008, Busey was ‘referred to a psychiatrist’ for having such beliefs. We won’t name the psychiatrist – but this man pronounced that the new gentler believer in God and Jesus must be mentally ill, and that “Busey's brain injury has had a greater effect on him than realized”. This promoter of pill popping described it as “essentially weakening his mental filters” so that he spoke and acted irrationally.
In other words if you are not an atheist, you are mentally ill. Needless to say this man then recommended Busey take Valproic acid (Depakote). We have an entry for this drug on our site. Its correct use is to treat epilepsy it has no effect on brain damage.
Depakote is a widely abused drug resulting in addiction – and is thus a real money spinner for those prescribing it – and the withdrawal symptoms are horrendous. Side effects upon discontinuation of these drugs include insomnia, restlessness, agitation, anxiety, disorientation, confusion, light sensitivity, diaphoresis, headaches, palpitations, hypertension, chest pain, and flu-like symptoms – which normally indicate liver damage and a compromised immune system. Abrupt cessation can trigger seizures, for example,
“ In at least one case, abrupt cessation of a high dose of gabapentin triggered a seizure in an individual with no history of epilepsy”
Follow the link to find out more.
Whilst on it people have experienced all sorts of hallucinations – auditory, tactile, and images and it has caused a large number of deaths as well. For more details go to the epilepsy drugs page. Side effects include
- Long term effects upon reason and memory - Some studies have cited that these drugs are linked to lowered IQ
- Mood swings, hostility, concentration problems, and hyperactivity
- Blurred vision, double vision , nystagmus - The FDA has notified prescribers that some drugs can cause acute myopia and secondary angle closure glaucoma
- Loss of consciousness , fainting and coma
- Skin problems – one of the most serious is that of "Lyell's syndrome" - a rare, life-threatening dermatological condition that is usually induced by a reaction to medications. It is characterized by the detachment of the top layer of skin (the epidermis) from the lower layers of the skin (the dermis) all over the body.
- Tics, parkinsonism
- Hepatotoxicity (from hepatic toxicity) – chemically driven liver damage. Some cases have been fatal
- Loss of libido, decreased sexual activity – particularly in men; occasional impotence
- Upset stomach , stomach pain and vomiting
- Significant reductions in bone density and mass, bone mineral content reduction
- Shortness of breath; fast, shallow breathing; Pounding or irregular heartbeat
- Depression - a statistically significant increase in suicidality
Busey is said to have accepted this doctor’s advice. We await the consequences with some trepidation.
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