The lust for fame can only be imagined by those who've never had it, but the effects on those who have cannot be ignored when they insist on showing their faces to you in that pathetic last hope of one day being publicly loved again. The strong, silent types have the decency and courage to just fade away when it's over. Think of Johnny Carson. He must have loved the spotlight as he was doing those monologues and other routines on his Tonight Show, don't you think? Don't you think he must have craved the applause and the sound of real, honest laughter from the crowds? How many times have you seen Johnny Carson lately?
Now, take a picture of what I witnessed on an episode of The Man Show not all that long ago. Jimmy and Adam were doing their shtick about the "Wheel of Consequences," or whatever they call it. You know the one, don't you? Where a guy from the audience spins a wheel and can either get to snort cocaine off a stripper's tits or have Refrigerator Perry break Chicago hot dog wind into a funnel strapped to his nose? There are usually at least 8 options like this in the little contest. On this night, one of the "good" options was to shake hands with a "Famous Celebrity". The Famous Celebrity had a paper plate with a question mark on it strapped over his face, held down by a large rubber band. There is no reason to hold back on expenses when one is on a nationwide cable comedy show.
Unfortunately, three or four audience members came and went and the famous celebrity was never picked by the fickle wheel. The last contestant got a "bad" option of going a couple of rounds with a fairly decent-looking but unremarkable female boxer. As Jimmy and Adam escorted this final segment of the show to the ring where the girl would obviously beat the crap out of him, I suppose they felt sorry for the still face-plated famous celebrity. So they asked Gary Busey to take the stupid plate off his face and to join them ringside as the fight commenced.
I have witnessed some pathetic stuff shown on television. Prior to this incident, I thought the most pitiful thing I'd ever seen was when the Golf Channel invited John Daly to play the guitar and sing during the televising of one of those special golfing events they put on during the slow season. As this redneck idiot sat down and worked his sophomoric brain into overdrive trying to remember where to put those fat little fingers to make G, C, and Dm, while wailing some angsty homemade lyric about losing his house trailer in a divorce, I did not think there would ever be anything I could see in that little window to Hollywood which would put me off my dinner any worse. How wrong I was.
True to prediction, the female boxer on The Man Show wound up pummeling the guy from the audience pretty severely. Then the cameras cut away to Jimmy and Adam at ringside closing out the show. It was what was going on behind them that caught my attention and gave me an image I will never be able to erase from my already cluttered-with-crap mind. The female boxer took off her headgear and backed into the ropes where Gary Busey (without the paper plate covering his unsightly gap-toothed grinning visage) just happened to be waiting for her. He put a clinch on her like a drunken sailor who hasn't put his dick into anything wet in over a year. She was scared to death. She obviously didn't know who this idiot was who had his hands all over her, trying to tongue kiss her as he was feeling her up with one hand and trying to put his other hand up her boxing briefs. As she tried to pull away, you could see Busey almost fall over the ropes to try and maintain his hold on this unknown and terrified girl. What made it so pathetic is that he didn't think I was watching. He thought the cameras were long gone and that he was doing this in the dark, so to speak. He absolutely could not believe that this poor little girl wasn't returning his advances.
I thought back to the first time I saw Gary Busey in The Buddy Holly Story in 1978. That was a very good role and he did a great job with it. He was born June 29, 1944 in Goose Creek, Texas (in the middle of nowhere, between San Antonio and Abilene), so he would have been 34 when he made this movie. He looked more like he was in his mid-twenties, and I guess that's what got him the part, as much as anything. Plus, he had been in some little rock 'n' roll band in Stillwater, Oklahoma, during his formative years. He'd even somehow managed to find work as a drummer with Leon Russell, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson before he took off to Hollywood to try breaking into acting.
He's had some bit parts in great movies and some big parts in bit movies since then. I don't feel like mentioning the list here 'cause you can get it elsewhere and it's all very forgettable. He had been nearly forgotten when he damn near died of head injuries in a motorcycle accident in December of 1988. I could mention that his dad is a Native American and his mom is Irish. I won't even bother to start making the drinking jokes which this union should inspire in your own mind.
As I said, the only image Gary Busey has left in my mind is one of a has-been groping a poor young girl on a cable comedy show when he thought no one was looking. I'm not planning on watching his new real-life TV show called "I'm with Busey" which started this week on Comedy Central. However, I feel fairly confident that if you watch that show, you will see what fame does to those who never deserved it in the first place.
His most lasting Trivial Pursuit moment, years from now, will probably be the fact that he was the last man killed on TV's stalwart cowboy hero show, Gunsmoke. Did you know John Wayne was asked to do "Gunsmoke" but didn't want to get tied down to television? He actually recommended James Arness for the part. There's another couple of strong, silent types for you. We used to have lots of them.