Gary Busey is coming home.
The actor, music artist and author is scheduled to attend a book signing from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, June 25, at Harwelden Mansion, 2210 S. Main St.
The signing is for “Buseyisms: Gary Busey’s Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” Advance tickets (book included) for the Church Studio-hosted event are $50 and can be purchased online at thechurchstudio.com.
Busey is a graduate of Nathan Hale High School. In advance of Busey’s return, here are a dozen things to know about him:
1. He may be Gary Busey to the rest of the world, but to in-the-know Tulsans, he is forever Teddy Jack Eddie.
Teddy Jack Eddie was a character name Busey used at the dawn of his career when he appeared on a cult favorite local TV show, “The Uncanny Film Festival & Camp Meeting,” which starred Gailard Sartain as Dr. Mazeppa Pompazoidi. Tulsans often refer to the show as “Mazeppa.”
Busey was credited as Teddy Jack Eddie when he performed on Leon Russell recordings. Russell named one of his children Teddy Jack.
2. Here’s another Leon story: Church Studio owner Teresa Knox said Busey introduced Russell to Barbra Streisand to help with the soundtrack for “A Star is Born.” Busey played Kris Kristofferson’s road manager in the film.
3. According to bio information on garybusey.com, Busey left Tulsa to make it big as a singing drummer in Hollywood. The bio said his band achieved moderate success playing gigs along the Sunset Strip, opening for Sly and the Family Stone and other bands.
The band, Carp, secured a record deal. When the band broke up, Busey auditioned for TV and film roles. He studied with James Best, an acting coach best known for playing Rosco P. Coltrane in “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
4. Busey received an Academy Award nomination for playing the title role in 1978’s “The Buddy Holly Story.” He made his film debut 11 years earlier, playing “Hippie with Loudspeaker” in “The Love-Ins.”
5. Aside from “Mazeppa,” Busey’s early TV work included guest spots on “The High Chaparral,” “Dan August,” “Bonanza” and “Kung Fu.” He reportedly holds the distinction of playing the last character to be “killed” on “Gunsmoke.” Episode summary: “A cowboy is unaware that Doc has given him less than a week to live after being kicked in the head by a horse and his partner tries to give him whatever he wants.” The series ended two episodes later.
6. Busey graduated to cast member of a TV series in 1974. “The Texas Wheelers” starred Jack Elam as a dad in a Texas-based sitcom. Two of his children were played by Busey and Mark Hamill, who was three years away from becoming Luke Skywalker. “The Texas Wheelers” lasted eight episodes. It probably seemed way out of place in ABC’s Friday night lineup considering that the lead-in and follow-up shows, respectively, were “The Six Million Dollar Man” and the creepy cool “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.”
7. “Mazeppa” was sort of a local ancestor of “Saturday Night Live.” Busey hosted a season four SNL episode in March 1979. In the opening segment, Busey and John Belushi hashed out some preshow tension. Belushi, who had been in “Animal House,” was angry at Busey for “stealing” his Oscar nomination. Belushi said Busey had been in that “Buddy Hackett movie.”
Busey played a Buddy Holly-type rocker in a school dance party skit and, in another segment, did a spot-on impression of President Jimmy Carter’s less-polished brother, Billy. Eubie Blake and Gregory Hines were the musical guests, but Busey picked up a guitar to perform a number with Rick Danko and Paul Butterfield.
8. “Lethal Weapon” was one of the biggest box-office hits of 1987. It spent six weeks at No. 1 — and it was a game-changer for Busey. He played a bad guy for the first time, and it put him back on Hollywood’s radar.
9. Busey almost died from head injuries sustained in a 1988 motorcycle accident. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and was slammed headfirst into a curb.
Busey couldn’t talk, walk or swallow after the accident, but he rehabbed and resumed his acting career. Among post-crash movies: “Point Break,” “Under Siege” and “The Firm” (one of his cast mates was fellow Tulsan Jeanne Tripplehorn).
10. Busey came close to winning an Oscar when he brought Buddy Holly to life on movie screens. He brought home some hardware (Cable Ace Award, best actor in a dramatic series) for his work in a 1985 episode of the HBO/USA Network anthology series “The Hitchhiker.” He played Nolan Powers, a radio evangelist with a dark secret.
11. Busey played professional baseball player Chet “Rocket” Steadman in 1993’s “Rookie of the Year.” Thomas Ian Nicholas starred in the film as a child who pitched in the big leagues. Nicholas was among celebrity guests at a 2018 Wizard World pop culture convention in Tulsa. Asked for his best Busey story, he said, “Busey was very, very nice to me. He was the nicest to me, in fact. I know this because one time he carried me by my underwear across the lunch room in front of 100 crew members. But remember, he was the nicest to me.”
Another sports-related role: Busey played Paul “Bear” Bryant in “Bear,” a 1984 movie about the legendary Alabama football coach.
12. A one-of-a-kind character, Busey’s most interesting role is surely himself. He has appeared as himself (or voiced himself) in movies (“You and Me,” “The Player,” “Cloud 9”) and TV series, including, obviously, “I’m With Busey,” “Entourage,” “The Simpsons,” “Celebrity Fit Club,” “Celebrity Paranormal Project,” “Celebrity Rehab,” “Celebrity Apprentice,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Celebrity Wife Swap,” “American Dad,” “Celebrity Big Brother,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “Impractical Jokers.”
In 2006, Busey played a Busey look-a-like in an episode of “Scrubs.”
Said Sarah Chalke’s character: “I don’t photograph well. On my driver’s license, I look like Gary Busey.”
Busey, standing nearby, said, “They say the same thing about me.”