PROFILE
Name:
James Belushi
Birth Date:
June 15, 1954
Birth Place:
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Height:
5' 11" (1.80 m)
Nationality:
American
BIOGRAPHY
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According to Jim

Background:

An American actor since the 1970s, James Belushi, younger brother of the famed comedian John Belushi (died in 1982) and father of actor Robert Belushi, rocketed to television stardom at age 47 playing the titular father of ABC’s popular sitcom “According to Jim” (2001- 2007). Starting out in Chicago’s applauded Second City Comedy Troupe in 1977, he spent many years working under the shadow of his iconic big brother, John, until he was handed the prestigious role in 2001. Belushi won a Málaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema Award for his bright starring turn in the 1997 film Retroactive, but is probably best-remembered as Bernie Litgo in the feature film adaptation About Last Night (1986). The multitalented actor also has dotted his wide-ranging credits with performances in movies like John Landis’ Trading Places (1983), The Principal (1987), Real Men (1987), Red Heat (1988), Mr. Destiny (1990), Curly Sue (1991), Separate Lives (1995), Race the Sun (1996), Gang Related (1997), Angel’s Dance (1999), Return to Me (2000) and Joe Somebody (2001).

After “According to Jim,” Belushi, who had done several voice-overs, including providing the voice of his brother’s fame alter-ego Jake Blues on the UPN short-lived series “The Blues Brothers Animated Series” (1997), focused his attention on voiceover work. Animation lovers can hear his voice in such projects as Snow Dogs (2002), Pinocchio (2002), Hoodwinked (2005), Casper’s Scare School (2006, TV), The Wild (2006), Farce of the Penguins (2007) and Underdog (2007).

Off camera, Belushi is a musician. He formed his own blues band called The Sacred Hearts in 1994. The band also became the in-house act for Chicago’s House of Blues, one of the numerous music venues he co-owned with actor Dan Aykroyd. He is also a happy husband and parent. Married to Jennifer Sloan in 1998, Belushi is the father of the couple’s two young children, Jamison and Jared. He also has a 26-year-old son, Robert, with first wife Sandra Davenport (married in the 1980s). Belushi’s married life has also been linked to actress Marjorie Bransfield (together from 1990 to 1992).


Albanian Roots

Childhood and Family:

The third of four children of a restaurateur and a pharmacy worker, James Edgar Belushi was born on June 15, 1954, in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Adam Belushi, an Albanian immigrant, left his native village of Qytezë in 1934 at the age of 15, and his mother, Agnes, was born in the U.S. to Albanian immigrants. Raised in Wheaton, Illinois, he attended Wheaton Central High School and later joined the school’s drama club. Upon graduating, he studied speech and theater at DuPage College in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and later transferred to earn a degree at Southern Illinois University.

In May 17, 1980, James tied the knot with Sandra Davenport, but after having a son, Robert Belushi, in 1981, the couple divorced. He was then married to actress Marjorie Bransfield from September 22, 1990, to April 1992 before finally marrying Jennifer Sloan, a jewelry shop clerk, on May 2, 1998. James and his third wife welcomed a baby girl, Jamison Bess Belushi, on July 28, 1999, and a baby boy, Jared James Belushi, on February 8, 2002. James is the younger brother of the late comedian John Belushi (born in 1949, died in 1982).


About Last Night

Career:

After receiving his degree in 1977, the Chicago-based actor James Belushi began his acting career by working with the celebrated Second City Troupe for two years, a group his big brother once worked with. Under the guidance of local producer Joyce Sloane and director Sheldon Patinkin, he landed on stage and gained attention for his intensity. It was while performing a two-man act on the subject of tragic artistry at Second City that Belushi caught the aye of Garry Marshall, who then gave him his first television role of Bert Gunkel on the short-lived sitcom “Who’s Watching the Kids” (NBC, 1978). This was followed by a gig in another soon-cancelled comedy series, “Working Stiffs” (1979), which co-starred Michael Keaton.

Still in 1979, Belushi delivered an impressive performance as Bernie Litgo in David Mamet’s play, “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” at the Apollo Theater Center in Chicago, which he followed up by performing in “Baal in the Twenty First Century” at the Goodman Theatre in 1980 and making his Broadway debut as the Pirate King in “The Pirates of Penzance” in 1981. In 1981, he also took his first stab at film acting with a part in the James Caan vehicle Thief, helmed by Michael Mann. Belushi’s efforts to free himself from his superstar brother’s shadow were starting to bloom when a tragedy struck his life. On March 5, 1982, John was found dead in Los Angeles due to cocaine and heroin. This incident made the younger Belushi very upset.

A year after John’s death, Belushi returned to the big screen in director John Landis’ Trading Places (1983, which starred John’s best friend and frequent co-star Dan Aykroyd. Several months later, he joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” but was fired because of problems with alcohol. While working on his alcohol problems, the actor continued working. He penned and starred in the 33-minute short film Birthday Boy (1986), co-wrote the action film Number One With a Bullet (1987) for director Jack Smight, as well as collected acting credits in such movies as Oliver Stone’s courageous war drama Salvador (1986, as Doctor Rock), Little Shop of Horrors (1986) and Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986). However, Belushi did not score a hit until he recreated his stage role of Bernie Litgo from “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” for the big screen adaptation, About Last Night (1986). In spite of the charm of leads Rob Lowe and Demi Moore, Belushi successfully stole every scene in the film. Subsequently, he was hired to star in the drama The Principal (1987) and his mounting status was further established with his following projects, which included teaming up with prestigious names like John Ritter in the action comedy Real Men (1987) and bodybuilder-turned-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger for the cop action film Red Heat (1988). He also worked with a law enforcement pooch in K-9 (1989) and reunited with Jumpin’ Jack Flash co-star Whoopi Goldberg in Homer and Eddie (also 1989).

A versatile performer, Belushi demonstrated his comic flair with roles in such films as Taking Care of Business (1990), Mr. Destiny (1990), Only the Lonely (1991) and Curly Sue (1991). However, for much of the 1990s, his output comprised of a mix of unmemorable projects and near-failures. He returned to the small screen in 1993 when he starred opposite Dana Delany in the maligned ABC mystery miniseries “Wild Palms,” as Harry Wyckoff, and made his TV movie debut in Royce, the next year. He had voice-over roles in animated series like “Pinky and the Brain” (1995), “Gargoyles” (1995-1996) and UPN’s short-lived “The Blues Brothers Animated Series” (1997), where he provided the voice of brother John’s well-known alter-ego Jake Blues. He then received a co-starring regular role in Steven Bochco’s ABC series, “Total Security” (1997). By this time, his movie resume had been loaded with appearances in the crime comedy Destiny Turns on the Radio (1995), the political satire Canadian Bacon (1995), the thriller Separate Lives (1995), the remake Sahara (1995), Race the Sun (1996, with Halle Berry), the holiday comedy Jingle All the Way (1996, with old buddy Schwarzenegger), Tupac Shakur’s crime/drama Gang Related (1997) and the sci-fi Retroactive (1997), where he took home a 1998 Málaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema for Best Actor. He went on to appear in films like The Florentine (1999), Angel’s Dance (1999) and Made Men (1999).

After performing in the studio comedies Return to Me (2000) and Joe Somebody (2001) and in the Showtime original Who Killed Atlanta’s Children, opposite Gregory Hines, Belushi received a huge breakthrough when he was chosen to play the titular character in the primetime family sitcom “According to Jim” (ABC, 2001- current). The show was an immediate success and Belushi subsequently found himself one of television’s most well-liked performers.

While starring on the show, Belushi continued to do voiceover work. He voiced the character Demon on the Disney Live action artic adventure Snow Dogs (2002), a farmer in Pinocchio (2002), the Woodsman in the animated fairy tale Hoodwinked (2005), Frank in Lolo’s Cafe (2006, TV), Alder in Casper’s Scare School (2006, TV) and Benny in the adventure The Wild (2006). More recently, in 2007, his voice could be heard in director Bob Saget’s penguin spoof, Farce of the Penguins. He also has a voice role in the upcoming Disney feature film version of Underdog (2007).


Awards:

  • Málaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema: Best Actor, Retroactive, 1998
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