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Timothy Busfield
Busfield in 2016
Born (1957-06-12) June 12, 1957 (age 66)
NationalityAmerican
Alma materEast Tennessee State University
Occupation(s)Actor, director
Years active1981–present
Known forThirtysomething, The West Wing
Spouses
Radha Delamarter
(m. 1982; div. 1986)
Jennifer Merwin
(m. 1988; div. 2007)
(m. 2013)
Children3 and 2 stepchildren

Timothy Busfield (born June 12, 1957) is an American actor and director. He has played Elliot Weston on the television series thirtysomething; Mark, the brother-in-law of Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) in Field of Dreams; and Danny Concannon on the television series The West Wing. In 1991 he received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for thirtysomething. He is also the founder of the 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization Theatre for Children, Inc. In 2024 he was inducted into the Sacramento Baseball Hall of Fame as a pitcher.

Early life and education

Busfield was born June 12, 1957, in Lansing, Michigan, the son of drama professor Roger and Michigan State University Press Director Jean Busfield. He graduated from East Lansing High School in 1975.[1][2] He received his first professional acting job at 18 in a children's theater adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Busfield studied drama at East Tennessee State University and traveled frequently with the Actors Theater of Louisville, which took him to Europe and Israel. In 1981, he moved to New York City, where he joined the Circle Repertory Company for their production of Lanford Wilson's Talley and Son. That same year, he was cast in his first film role with a bit part as a mortar-bearing soldier in the comedy Stripes (1981).[3]

Career

More stage work followed, including a stint as understudy to Matthew Broderick in Brighton Beach Memoirs in 1982. The following year, Busfield relocated to Los Angeles to join the cast of Reggie (ABC, 1983), a short-lived comedy based on the British television series The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (BBC, 1976–79). In 1984, Busfield received his first substantial film role as Arnold Poindexter, one of the Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity brothers in the comedy Revenge of the Nerds (1984) and its 1987 sequel, and joined the cast of the medical drama Trapper John, M.D. (CBS, 1979–1986), as the son of Pernell Roberts' Trapper John McIntyre, a role he held until the series' conclusion in 1986.

Following Trapper John, M.D., Busfield and his brother Buck created the Fantasy Theatre, a professional touring company for children's audiences—and later named Honorary State Children's Theater for California—based in his new hometown of Sacramento, California. The Busfields also established the B Street Theatre there in 1992, which was devoted to more adult productions.

In 1987, Busfield was cast as Elliot on thirtysomething. The part was his first mature role to date, and the producers requested that Busfield, who was then clean shaven, grow a beard to help sell his image as a married man and father. Over the course of the show's four-season run, Elliot came to personify the best and worst aspects of the series: a successful advertising executive and father, Elliot also infuriated his friends and family (and viewers) with his marital infidelity and competitive streak with partner Michael Steadman (Ken Olin), all of which went on while his wife Nancy (Patricia Wettig) struggled with ovarian cancer. Despite his character's unpleasant tendencies, Busfield brought humor and honesty to the role, and was nominated three times for an Emmy before winning one in 1991, shortly before conflicts between the producers and cast brought the show to an abrupt conclusion.

Busfield appeared as the nominal villain in the popular Kevin Costner fantasy Field of Dreams in 1989, and in 1990, replacing Tom Hulce as the lead in A Few Good Men, a Broadway production written by Aaron Sorkin, with whom he would later enjoy fruitful collaborations. He also made his directorial debut with a 1990 episode of thirtysomething, helming three episodes of the series. Roles in television features and theatrical films followed, including supporting turns in Sneakers (1992), Quiz Show (1994) and the children's fantasy Little Big League (1994), which allowed Busfield to show off his baseball skills as the first baseman for the Minnesota Twins. In the summer of 1992, Busfield signed as a pitcher with the semi-pro Sacramento Smokeys.[4][5] Busfield pitched for the Smokeys in between acting jobs through the 2000 season, amassed a pitching record of 30 wins and 12 losses over nine seasons.[6] His character, Lou Collins, was loosely based on Twins legend Kent Hrbek. Hrbek served as a consultant on the film.

Busfield returned to network television several times during the late 1990s. He was the patriarch of the Byrd clan, which moved from Connecticut to Hawaii in the Steven Bochco-produced The Byrds of Paradise (ABC, 1993–94), and starred as one of a group of former high school jocks still clinging to their glory days in Champs (ABC, 1996) for Ron Howard.

By the late 1990s, Busfield was dividing his time between acting and directing for television, helming multiple episodes of several shows, including Sorkin's Sports Night (ABC, 1998–2000), as well as Ed (NBC, 2000–04), for which he also served as co–executive producer and guest star (as Ed's down-on-his-luck brother Lloyd). During this period, Busfield also began his recurring role as Pulitzer Prize–winning White House correspondent—and love interest to Allison Janney's C.J. Cregg—Danny Concannon on The West Wing. He would appear sporadically on the show throughout its entire network run.[3]

Busfield kept a foot on both sides of the camera from 2000 on; directing and executive producing the successful CBS drama Without a Trace (2002–09) and appearing occasionally as the wheelchair-using divorce attorney for Anthony LaPaglia's Jack Malone. He also directed episodes of Las Vegas (NBC, 2003–08), Damages (FX, 2007–12), and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. On the latter, he also co-starred on the short-lived Aaron Sorkin series as Cal Shanley, the occasionally nerve-plagued control director for the program's self-titled show-within-a-show. That show was canceled in 2007. Busfield then served as executive producer of the Brooke Shields-led drama, Lipstick Jungle (NBC, 2008–2009).

In 2019, Guest Artist, directed by Busfield, premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The film is written by and stars Jeff Daniels. Guest Artist was shot on location in New York City, and in Daniels' hometown of Chelsea, Michigan. This film marked the launch of Grand River Productions, a production company with Daniels, Busfield, and Melissa Gilbert.[7]

In 2020, Busfield appeared as a guest on the Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip marathon fundraiser episode of The George Lucas Talk Show.

Busfield voiced the title character in Marvel New Media/SiriusXM's radio drama podcast series Marvel's Wastelanders: Star-Lord, appearing alongside Chris Elliott, Patrick Page, Vanessa Williams and Danny Glover.

Stage and theater

Busfield remains a stage actor and director whose Broadway credits include A Few Good Men and Brighton Beach Memoirs, where he was star Matthew Broderick's understudy.[8] Off-Broadway, he worked with Circle Repertory Company in 1982. With elder brother Buck Busfield, he is co-founder of the B Street Theatre in Sacramento, California,[9] where he has appeared in and directed numerous contemporary works. The Busfield brothers also established Fantasy Theater, a touring troupe that plays to children. Busfield writes children's plays for the Fantasy troupe.

Timothy Busfield professional theatre credits

Personal life

Busfield was married to actress and director Radha Delamarter before divorcing in 1986. The couple had a son, Willy.[2] In 1988 he married fashion designer Jennifer Merwin, with whom he had children Daisy and Samuel.[2] They filed for divorce in 2007.[10]

A representative for Busfield said in January 2013 that Busfield had become engaged to actress Melissa Gilbert over the holiday season.[11] They were married April 24, 2013, in a private ceremony at San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California.[12] Busfield and Gilbert resided in Howell, Michigan, from 2013 to 2018[13] but moved to New York City late in 2018.[14] During the 2016–17 academic year, Busfield served as an artist in residence at Michigan State University.[15]

Filmography

As actor

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1981 Stripes Soldier With Mortar
1984 Revenge of the Nerds Arnold Poindexter
1987 Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise Arnold Poindexter
1989 Field of Dreams Mark
1992 Sneakers Dick Gordon
1993 The Skateboard Kid Frank
1993 Striking Distance Officer Sacco
1994 Murder Between Friends District Attorney John Thorn [16]
1994 Little Big League Lou Collins
1994 Quiz Show Fred
1996 First Kid Secret Service Agent Woods
1998 The Souler Opposite Robert Levin
2002 Terminal Error Elliot Nescher
2003 National Security Officer Charlie Reed
2005 The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie Himself
2012 Save the Date Benjie
2013 23 Blast Jasper A. Duncan
2022 The Independent Tom Mayfield

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1983 Reggie Mark Potter 6 episodes
1984 AfterMASH Prentiss Episode: "C.Y.A."
1984 The Paper Chase Barrett Episode: "The Advocates"
1984–1986 Family Ties Doug / Young Matt Gilbert 3 episodes
1984–1986 Trapper John, M.D. Dr. John "J.T." McIntyre Jr., M.D. 39 episodes
1985 Hotel Robert Bianca Episode: "Imperfect Union"
1987 Matlock Adam Gardner Episode: "The Rat Pack"
1987–1991 Thirtysomething Elliot Weston 85 episodes
1991 Strays Paul Jarrett Television film
1993 Screen One Ephraim Lipshitz Episode: "Wall of Silence"
1994 The Byrds of Paradise Sam Byrd 12 episodes
1995 Kidnapped: In the Line of Duty Pete Honeycutt Television film
1995 The Outer Limits Dr. Jon Holland Episode: "Under the Bed"
1996 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Spy Guy Episode: "Seconds"; uncredited
1996 Champs Tom McManus 12 episodes
1997 Tracey Takes On... Businessman #2 Episode: "Food"
1997 Trucks Ray Porter Television film
1997 Buffalo Soldiers Major Robert Carr Television film
1997 What's Right With America Walter Gordon Television special
1999 Time at the Top Frank Shawson Television film
1999–2006 The West Wing Danny Concannon 28 episodes
2000 Rude Awakening John Episode: "If I Could See Me Now: Part 2"
2001 Cover Me Detective Mackowitz Episode: "Home for the Holidays"
2002 Dead in a Heartbeat Zachary Franklin Television film
2002–2004 Ed Lloyd Stevens 3 episodes
2004 Without a Trace Ed Felder 3 episodes
2005–2009 Entourage TV Director / Himself 3 episodes
2006–2007 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Cal Shanley 22 episodes
2010 Law & Order Ray Backlund Episode: "Brilliant Disguise"
2010 Outlaw District Attorney Mereta Episode: "In Re: Tracy Vidalin"
2011 Beyond the Blackboard School District HR Representative Television film
2011 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Daniel Carter Episode: "Russian Brides"
2012 Blue Bloods Charles Bynes Episode: "Leap of Faith"
2012 Childrens Hospital Dr. Bloomfield Episode: "Behind the Scenes"
2012–2013 The Mob Doctor David Ellis 2 episodes
2013 Revolution Dr. Ethan Camp Episode: "The Love Boat"
2013 Perception George Episode: "Neuropositive"
2014–2015 Sleepy Hollow Benjamin Franklin[17] 3 episodes
2015 The Night Shift Shane Episode: "Hold On"
2015 Secrets and Lies John Garner 4 episodes
2018 One Dollar Uncle Rich 2 episodes
2018–2019 Designated Survivor Dr. Adam Louden 4 episodes
2019 The Loudest Voice Neil Mullin 2 episodes
2019 Heartstrings Logan Cantrell Episode: "Sugar Hill"[18]
2019–2020 Almost Family Ron Doyle 6 episodes
2020–2021 For Life Henry Roswell Main role; 19 episodes
2020 The George Lucas Talk Show Himself Episode: "Stu-D2 1138 on the Binary Sunset Sith"
2023 Billions (TV series) Dr. Mark Season 7, Episode 7

As director

References

  1. ^ "Today in history". ABC News. Associated Press. June 12, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Timothy Busfield Biography (1957 - )". FilmReference.com. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Guest Artists & Scholars Series". Michigan State University Department of Theatre. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  4. ^ "Now pitching for the Smokeys". Orlando Sentinel. August 21, 1992. p. 2A.
  5. ^ "Sacto Smokeys Here Today Team Has Survived For 48 Years". Sacramento Bee. (California). June 1, 1996.
  6. ^ "Field of Dreams Actor Busfield lives out fantasy as thirtysomething pitcher". Boca Raton News. July 5, 1995.
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr.; Hipes, Patrick (2019-02-07). "Jeff Daniels, Timothy Busfield & Melissa Gilbert Launch Grand River Productions". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2022-12-30.
  8. ^ "Brighton Beach Memoirs – Broadway Play – Original". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  9. ^ "About B Street". B Street Theatre. Retrieved April 9, 2019.[dead link]
  10. ^ ""Thirtysomething" Star Divorcing". TMZ. December 11, 2007. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  11. ^ Jordan, Julie; Shira, Dahvi (January 29, 2013). "Melissa Gilbert Engaged to Thirtysomething's Timothy Busfield". People. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  12. ^ Nudd, Tim; Jordan, Julie (April 25, 2013). "Melissa Gilbert Weds Timothy Busfield". People. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  13. ^ Moorehouse, Buddy (August 5, 2013). "Hollywood comes to Howell: Gilbert and Busfield are the biggest stars we've had, but not the first". The Livingston Post. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  14. ^ Hall, Christina (July 9, 2018). "Estate sale planned as Melissa Gilbert, Timothy Busfield leave Michigan". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  15. ^ Wolcott, R J (June 21, 2016). "Actor Tim Busfield preparing MSU students for real life". Detroit Free Press. Lansing State Journal. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  16. ^ Roberta Bernstein, "Murder Between Friends", in Variety and Daily Variety Television Reviews, 1993-1994, January 11, 1994, p. 12
  17. ^ Klutzy_girl. "Sleepy Hollow - Season 2 - Casting News - Timothy Busfield to recur as Benjamin Franklin". spoilertv.com. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  18. ^ Iannucci, Rebecca (February 11, 2019). "Sarah Shahi, Scandal's Bellamy Young, thirtysomething Alums and More Join Netflix's Dolly Parton Anthology". TVLine.