Celebrities rise and celebrities fall. It should be no surprise to anyone when an actor of high status, with a good list of films under his belt is forced to do a role beneath them. But when that actor is Gary Busey and that role is of the spokesperson for Westside Chevrolet, you have to wonder what the hell is going on?
Busey had a lot going for him at one time. He came into his acting chops in the '70s doing stints on the hit television shows "Bonanza" and "Gunsmoke." In 1976, he got a good-sized break playing the secondary role in the Babs Streisand vehicle A Star Is Born. Apparently Busey is/was a talented musician and played drums for likes of Leon Russel and Kris Kristofferson.
It may have been Busey's musical aptitudes that led him to his breakthrough role as Buddy Holly in the biopic of the musician's ill-fated life. The Buddy Holly Story earned Busey an Oscar nod in addition to an explosion into stardom. When the dust settled, Busey found himself acting in a mixture of good and bad. The high points of his career gave him hits such as Point Break and The Firm down to the lows of Rookie of the Year and even lower to Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice. But through it all, Busey kept his good name and the prestige of a quality actor. Then, something strange happened.
In 2003, Busey starred in the Comedy Central show about a psychotic actor, spouting out random wisdoms while teaching a younger Adam de la Peña all about the world. "I'm With Busey" was supposed to be a mockumentaty, but Gary seemed pretty serious. In 2005, he followed his newfound love of reality television to the VH1 fat-camp show, "Celebrity Fit Club." What he lost in body-to-fat ratio, he gained in lunacy. His slide into full-blown insanity made viral tidal waves when, donning a knitted scarf, he threatened to pull out the endocrine system of an E reporter on "Inside Edition." The video was mocked endlessly on E network's "Talk Soup" and Busey's infamy as nothing short of a mental case became synonymous with the actor's name. In 2008, he appeared on VH1's "Celebrity Rehab," not as someone in need of rehabilitation, but as a recovered cocaine addict there for moral support. Somewhere during the course of the show it was speculated that Gary might actually have a medical imbalance due to a near-fatal motorcycle accident he was in some years prior, but this was never validated. What was validated was Busey's turn on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice." Busey fought with his teammates, showed off his schlong and in general, acted like, Gary Busey.
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So, when Houstonians woke up to see Busey hocking Chevy Silverados, was anyone all that surprised? This is not Gary's first foray into the world of commercials. In 2008, he was the spokesman for a relatively unknown company called gotvmail. The commercials were seemingly off-the-cuff business ideas that Gary had come up with. And despite the hometown feel, the Gary/Westside Chevy ads aren't especially just for us Houstonians. He did identical spots for a community Kia dealer in Pittsburgh, PA.
Maybe the question should not be then, does Gary Busey surprise you anymore, but rather, will Gary Busey say no to anyone? Not likely. Just last month it was announced that he would swap spouses with Ted Haggard, the once pastor and president of the National Association of Evangelicals booted for his love of drugs and male prostitutes, on another reality television show.
We suspect that Gary Busey might be on to something and maybe the ones being made a' fool are us. Once he realized that America loved his wild and wacky ways, did he make a conscious decision to keep up the ruse? Maybe he is just cashing the cow while he can, acting in the role he was born to play as the "Crazy Gary Busey?" Or could it be some form of performance art? It has been done before, actors portraying a version of themselves for the world to see. Andy Kaufman, excelled at it; why wouldn't Gary Busey?
Given all that we know about the man who once famously wore Buddy Holly's glasses and now gets his paychecks from Westside Chevrolet, perhaps the better question we should be asking is, "Is Gary Busey a genius?"