Judy Helkenberg fully Judy Lynn Helkenberg is the ex-wife of Gary Busey and the mother of Jake Busey. She is also a well-known actress and photographer, having starred in several hit shows.
Through her actions, Judy justifies the saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” To find out about her origins and how Judy helped two of the best actors in the world to get their journey started, follow the article.
Judy Helkenberg’s Parents Are No Longer Alive
Judy was born on January 02, 1944, in Coffeyville, Kansas, United States of America. Her father, Homer Leo Helkenberg, worked in the Co-op refinery until his retirement, and her late mother, Rosalia Helkenberg, was a St. Paul’s Episcopal Church member.
Rosalia, originally from Concordia moved to Coffeyville as a kid with her parents Clay and Eva Simpson. She married Homer Helkenberg on August 25, 1928. The pair stayed in Coffeyville until 1981. Then, they moved to Orlando in 1981 where Homer died in 1985.
Judy’s mother Rosalia’s death followed on March 20, 1990, in the Humana Hospital. The memorial was held in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church a week later and Rosalia was laid to rest in Restlawn Memorial Park Cemetery.
Besides, Judy has three siblings: Jeane Collins, Joanne Elliott, and Jerrie Storm.
She Completed Her Studies In Kansas
Judy went to Coffeyville Junior College in Kansas for her earlier studies. It was also where Helkenberg would also meet her future husband, William Gary Busey. After finishing her studies at Coffeyville, Judy transferred to Kansas State College of Pittsburg.
How Did Judy Helkenberg And Her Former Husband Gary Meet?
Judy met Gary at his first football game at Coffeyville Junior College in 1963. She was a year ahead of him, and that didn’t stop Gary from falling head over heels for the blonde beauty.
It was love at first sight for Gary. In his biography, Buseyisms: Gary Busey’s Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, the actor recalled their first encounter and had this to way:
Standing before me was the most beautiful girl on the face of the planet. “She’s mine,” I vowed.
The pair hit it off immediately and began dating. They became a full-fledged couple after a year of dating. Gary would also follow her to Kansas State with his football scholarship.
Judy Took The Initiative To Get Married
Things were going well for the couple in Kansas State until Gary got a knee injury and lost his athletic scholarship. He had to move to Oklahoma State University and leave Judy behind. He would then leave his football past behind and join The Rubber Band.
During that time, Gary would go on tours with his bandmates to California and often shared a few phone calls with his girlfriend back in Kansas. Nevertheless, distance had grown between them.
One day, Judy had enough and demanded Gary marry her over the phone. The pair had been dating for six years at that point. She even threatened him that she would date another guy if they didn’t become husband and wife the next time he came back to his hometown, Tulsa. Although Gary didn’t feel ready to be a husband yet, he reluctantly agreed.
Their Wedding in 1968
On December 30, 1968, after Gary’s band, The Rubber Band played a few gigs in Tulsa, he and his wife Judy drove to Coffeyville, Kansas. That same day, they tied the knot at a private ceremony at an Episcopal church. Their family, friends, and the band attended the wedding.
There was no festive party or reception after their day at the church. They went to Judy’s parents’ house to get her stuff and spent their honeymoon at Camelot Inn, a popular hotel in Tulsa.
Helkenberg Was A Supportive Wife
Judy was an ideal wife; she cared deeply for Gary and helped him every step of the way. When his band was not doing so well, she was still a fan of their music. She had been supporting them by working as an executive secretary. The actor even dedicated a song to her; “I’m Still in Love with You.”
Unfortunately, the band was not headed for stardom. So, when Gary pursued acting, Judy was always there supporting him emotionally and financially. His successful acting career was a testament to Judy’s lasting patience and trust in him. She would tease him frequently with the line “use your famous face to get things done” after his accomplishments.
The pair also had a son together on June 15, 1971, named William Jacob Busey, who would later follow in his father’s footsteps to become an actor.
Gary Busey’s Drug Addiction And Infidelity Led To The Pair’s Divorce
After Gary’s acting career became successful, he moved to Malibu, California, with Judy and Jake. He started taking cocaine soon after, and by 1985, he had become an addict. His cocaine addiction introduced a rift in the pair’s relationship.
Judy would kick him out of the house every other week due to this, but he didn’t even stop the consumption. This severely affected his relationship with her and their son.
Meanwhile, Gary had taken an interest in another romantic partner, Belinda Bauer, who acted alongside him in the 1995 movie Lethal Weapon. Busey would spend a lot of time with her to the point where things became obvious for Judy as well. At first, she tried to deny it, but she eventually came to let it be.
Judy Helkenberg Was A Loving Spouse Till The End
Even though the pair were headed towards an eventual divorce, Judy was there by his side when her hubby Gary got into a fatal motorcycle accident in 1988. The actor also mentioned that she, along with Jake and his family, were always in the hospital with him.
Soon after his full recovery, Gary filed for a divorce in 1989, thus ending their two-decade-long marriage. There was no bad blood between them after the divorce, and they likely shared the custody of Jake too. In his book, the actor acknowledged the role his former wife played in his life.
“To my first wife, Judy Lynn Helkenberg, who, in every way, helped me get my career started, thank you.”
Helkenberg’s Relationship with Her Son Jake
She is a great mother and has also helped her son Jake every step of the way. She would allow him to go on tour with his dad Gary’s band and hang out with his acting friends too. In a way, she guided him toward success.
In a heartfelt Instagram post, Jake revealed his mother acted as the rock of stability and guided him throughout his rough childhood on the road, encountering people doing coke and drinking. He added that he would have wound up worse if it weren’t for her.
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Besides, Judy is now a grandmother of Autumn Rosalia Busey from her son Jake’s relationship with April Hutchinson.
Did She Marry After Her Divorce?
The now 80-year-old has kept her relationship status private. She is thought to be single.
As for her ex-husband, Gary dated stunt coordinator Tracy Hutchinson after the divorce. He went on to marry actress Tiani Warden in 1996 and split with her five years later. Currently, he is in a relationship with Steffanie Sampson. He also has two more children: Alectra and Luke Busey.
Judy Starred In The American Pie: Band Camp
Aside from her job as an executive secretary, Helkenberg is also an actor. The beautiful blonde starred in the 1998 television series History’s Mysteries. She also performed well in the role of Ernie’s mother in American Pie Presents Band Camp (2005).
Judy Helkenberg’s Net Worth And Whereabouts
She amassed an estimated net worth of $100 thousand with her ventures into film and her other jobs. Her ex-husband, Gary Busey, is worth $500 thousand, and her son, Jake Busey, also has $500 thousand.
She currently resides in Ventura, California.