James Belushi was born June 15, 1954 in Chicago but grew up in Wheaton, Illinois. He is the third of four children of Adam Belushi, an Albanian immigrant who left his native Qytezë village in 1934 at the age of 15, and Agnes, who was born in the U.S. of Albanian immigrants.
A high school teacher, impressed by Jim's improvisational skills while giving speeches, convinced Jim to to be in a school play. After that he joined the school's drama club. Today if asked why he got involved in acting, he will jokingly say "Because of girls. In the drama club, there were about 20 girls and six guys. And the same thing with choir....more girls!".
He attended the College of Dupage and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a degree in Speech and Theater Arts. From 1976-80 he became a resident member of Chicago's famed Second City. In 1979, write-producer Garry Marshall saw Jim performing for 2nd City and arranged for him to come to Hollywood and co-star in the TV Pilot "Who's Watching the Kids" for Paramount, and then for a role in the television show "Working Stiffs" (co-starring Michael Keaton). Later, in 1983, he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live for 2 years.
He has come a long way from 2nd City, SNL, and his early role in the TV series "Working Stiffs". His feature credits since then show an extraordinary range: He was James Woods' spacey DJ buddy, 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." In 2000 Belushi co-starred in MGM's "Return to Me," directed by Bonnie Hunt and starring David Duchovny and Minnie Driver, and he received rave reviews for his work with Gregory Hines in Showtime's "Who Killed Atlanta's Children? As his popularity grew over the years, so did his roles in film, theater, and television.
Belushi has performed on Broadway in Herb Gardner's acclaimed "Conversations with My Father" at the Royal Theatre, off-Broadway in "True West," at the Cherry Lane Theatre in the Williamstown Theatre Festival production of John Guare's "Moon Over Miami," and for Joseph Papp as the Pirate King in "Pirates of Penzance." In addition he does numerous voiceovers for film, television and for commercials.
He not only keeps busy acting in films and is an investor in the House of Blues, but also performs with his band, the Sacred Hearts. Jim has little time outside career and family, but has made a major commitment as founder and member of the board of the John Belushi Scholarship Fund, which supports college and college-prep students pursuing performance and visual arts education.
A dedicated husband and father he resides in Los Angeles with his wife - Jennifer; 2 sons - Robert ( '81) and Jared ('02) and a daughter - Jamison ('99). Jim is currently starring in The Defenders on CBS.