Jim Belushi has been a favorite of film, television, and stage audiences for more than 30 years. He is one of the greatest leading character actors of today, equally skilled in drama and comedy, and a gifted performer who can also hold a room as front man of a rhythm and blues band.
A proud Chicagoan, Belushi graduated from Southern Illinois University with a degree in speech, education, and theatre before moving on to become a resident member of Chicago’s famed Second City from 1976 to 1980. In 1979 he went to Hollywood, when writer-producer Garry Marshall cast him in the Paramount Television series Who’s Watching the Kids and later in Working Stiffs with Michael Keaton.
Belushi’s first film was Michael Mann’s Thief in which he played James Caan’s partner in crime, but it was his work in Edward Zwick’s About Last Night with Rob Lowe and Demi Moore that brought Belushi his first serious attention as a film star. In the 1986 feature, he reprised the role that he had played on stage in David Mamet’s Obie Award-winning “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” from which the film was adapted. His feature credits since then show an extraordinary range: He was “Dr. Rock,” in Oliver Stone’s Salvador; the mentally handicapped dishwasher befriended by Whoopi Goldberg in the Andrei Konchalovsky film Homer and Eddie; and the defiant high school principal standing up to drug dealers in The Principal. Most recently, Belushi traveled to Berlin to shoot the role of a hard-talking publisher in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost.
Currently starring on CBS’ hit one-hour drama The Defenders, Belushi plays a colorful defense attorney in Las Vegas who will do anything to win for his clients. The show co-stars Jerry O’Connell, and has earned solid ratings and reviews. Starting February 4th, The Defenders airs on Friday nights at 8:00pm on CBS. And coming up on the horizon, from April to July of 2011, you can see Belushi star in Garson Kanin’s “Born Yesterday” on Broadway. This revival, directed by Tony Award-winning director Doug Hughes, was first staged in 1948, and was later made into a film starring Judy Holliday, William Holden, and Broderick Crawford.
Belushi is no freshman to television. In 1983 he wrote and appeared in Saturday Night Live for two seasons. Among his other television credits as an actor are the Oliver Stone/ABC miniseries Wild Palms, the movie Sahara for Showtime, and the critically acclaimed series Beggars and Choosers. Belushi was featured on the ABC hit comedy According to Jim, in which he played the husband in a marriage that actually works, and the father of five young children. He also served as music composer, executive producer and director. After wrapping 182 episodes for its eighth and final season, the family favorite series also hit a milestone when it launched into off-net syndication in 2007.
Belushi has also stayed close to his stage background, starring on Broadway in Herb Gardner’s acclaimed “Conversations with My Father” at the Royal Theatre, and for Joseph Papp as the “Pirate King” in “Pirates of Penzance.” He alsop had off-Broadway in the Williamstown Theatre Festival production of John Guare’s “Moon Over Miami,” in “True West” at the Cherry Lane Theatre, and in Richard Nelson’s “Baal” at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.
Belushi’s other passions include music. His band, The Sacred Hearts, is the Official House Band for the House of Blues chain. They are a rhythm and blues band who have been together for 14 years, performing 40 nights a year at casinos, clubs, and corporate events all over the country. They had succesfully entertained Vice President Gore, Senators, President Clinton, and other politicians. Big Men Big Music is an other music project that Belushi started with his friend, Dan Aykroyd, after spending ten years together performing as The Blues Brothers. In September 2005, they opened for the Rolling Stones at Soldier Field in Chicago, and performed at the SARS benefit in Toronto for over 400,000 people, which the Rolling Stones also headlined. Their CD, Have Love, Will Travel, was number one on the blues chart. Belushi currently has five CDs out: Blues Brothers Live from Chicago, The Sacred Hearts’ 36 x 22 x 36, The Big Men Big Music CD, Have Love Will Travel, and the recently-released According to Jim soundtrack.
Belushi has also added authorship to his list of accomplishments, as he released his first book in May of 2006, entitled Real Men: According to Jim. In this book he explains how to do just about everything – from picking up women and choosing your friends, to sticking up for yourself and getting through life without apologizing.
A dedicated husband and father, Belushi has little time outside career and family. In his spare time he serves in many charities, and has made a major commitment as founder and member of the board of the John Belushi Scholarship Fund, which supports the College of Du Page, and the Chicago Academy of the Arts for students pursuing performance and visual arts education.