HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — Jim Belushi, the multimedia star who has been a familiar face on American television for 30 years, most recently as the star of ABC’s “According to Jim,” will be the celebrity grand marshal on March 17, 20-14, of the First Ever 11th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Hot Springs.
“Jim Belushi is one of the most well-liked entertainers in the world,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, “and he will be a perfect fit for the zaniness that surrounds the St. Patrick’s Parade in Hot Springs.”
Belushi will join a long line of extremely popular parade grand marshals that includes Bo Derek, John Corbett, Tim Matheson, Mario Lopez, George Wendt, Mike Rowe and others.
“We are starting the planning for the 11th annual parade,” Arrison said, “and the organizing committee is really pleased that we have a commitment from Jim Belushi as our celebrity marshal.”
The parade annually attracts tens of thousands of revelers to the downtown area for an event that includes green Irish Wolfhounds, a platoon of Irish Elvis impersonators, floats, bands, singing groups, ridiculous dancing and other entries.
The entire parade route consists of the 98-foot length of Bridge Street, which gained fame in the 1930s when Ripley’s Believe It or Not named it the shortest street in the world in everyday use.
Belushi has been a favorite of film, television and stage audiences for more than 30 years, a great leading character actor equally at home in drama and comedy, and a gifted performer who can also hold a room as front man of a rhythm and blues band.
Born in Chicago, Belushi graduated from Southern Illinois University with a degree in speech, education and theatre before becoming a resident member of Chicago’s famed Second City comedy troupe from 1976-1980. In 1979 he left for Hollywood, where writer-producer Garry Marshall cast him in the Paramount Television series “Who’s Watching the Kids” and later in “Working Stiffs” with Michael Keaton.
In 2010, Belushi starred in CBS’s one-hour drama “The Defenders,” playing a colorful defense attorney in Las Vegas who would do anything to win for his clients. Following “The Defenders” in 2011, he made his way to Broadway and earned rave reviews as the star of Garson Kanin’s “Born Yesterday.” This revival, directed by Tony Award-winning director Doug Hughes, was first staged in 1946 and was later made into a film starring Judy Holliday, William Holden and Broderick Crawford.
Starting in 1983 he wrote for 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 starred 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 executive producer, music composer and director. After wrapping 182 episodes for its eighth and final season, the family favorite series also hit a milestone when it launched into syndication in 2007.
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 James Woods’ spacey DJ buddy, Dr. Rock, in Oliver Stone’s “Salvador;” the mentally challenged 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 part of a hard-talking publisher in Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost.”
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?” Other starring roles include “Joe Somebody,” the “K-9” franchise for Universal Studios, “Red Heat” with Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Hughes’ “Curly Sue,” “Taking Care of Business,” “Once Upon a Crime,” “Mr. Destiny,” “Only the Lonely,” “The Man with One Red Shoe,” “Real Men,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Jingle All the Way,” “Retroactive” and “Gang Related” with Tupac Shakur. Belushi was recently cast in the Disney live-action feature film version of the cartoon “Underdog.” Additionally, he voices the Squirrel in the animated feature “The Wild” and the Woodsman in the animated feature “Hoodwinked.” He has leant his voice to hundreds of animated television shows from “The Mighty Ducks” to “The Tick” and “AAAHH! Real Monsters;” “Scooby Doo” to “Superman.” You will also see him in the upcoming independent features “The Secret Lives of Dorks” and “Cougars, Inc.”
Besides acting, Belushi loves music. His band, The Sacred Hearts, is the official house band for the House of Blues chain. They are a rhythm and blues band that have been together for 14 years, performing 40 nights a year at clubs, casinos and corporate events all over the country. With his harmonica in hand, Belushi and the band have entertained President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, senators and other politicians. “Big Men Big Music” is a project that Belushi started with his friend, Dan Aykroyd after spending 10 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 entitled “Have Love, Will Travel” was No. 1 on the blues chart. Belushi currently has four 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 released his first book in May of 2006 entitled “Real Men Don’t Apologize.”
Most recently, Belushi has teamed up with his son, Robert, and four other Second City alumni to create “Jim Belushi and the Chicago Board of Comedy.” The group brings an improvised comedy sketch show to stages at colleges, comedy clubs and casinos nationwide. In conjunction with The Chicago Board of Comedy, Jim has also recently opened The Comedy Bar, a stand-up club in his hometown of Chicago in River North.
The 2014 parade has been named one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast for the sixth year by the Southeast Tourism Society.
Earlier this year the parade was awarded the Event of the Year Award from the Arkansas Festivals and Events Association in Little Rock. Also, the Discovery Channel named it as No. 1 among Seven Crazy St. Patrick’s Day Events Worldwide.
Over its 10-year span, the parade has brought worldwide attention to Hot Springs and has received numerous awards:
- In 2005 it was No. 1 in Off the Beaten Path Parades awarded by The Irish Echo
- In 2008 it was named among the Top Ten St. Patrick’s Day Parades in the U.S. by AOL
- In 2009 it was named the Quirkiest St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Earth by Smithsonian Magazine
- In 2009 it was named No. 2 in its list of Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the Southeast by the Atlanta Journal Constitution
- For five consecutive years, it has been selected as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society
- In 2010 it was elected No. 8 among the Top 10 Worldwide St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations by HotelsCombined.com
- In 2010 the parade received the prestigious Henry Award for Community Tourism Development from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
- In 2010 it was designated an Official Southern Travel Treasure by AAA Southern Traveler Magazine
- In 2010 the parade was elected to the list of Top 100 Events and Festivals in North America by the American Bus Association group tour association.
- In 2011 it was named the Arkansas Festival and Event Association’s 2010 Event of the Year.
- In 2011 CNN named it No. 1 among Quirky St. Patrick’s Day Parades.
- In 2011 it was named Most Unusual St. Patrick’s Day Parade by the Irish Echo.
- In 2011 Irish Central named it among the Top 5 St. Patrick’s Day Parades in America.
- In 2011 Business Insider listed it among Eight International St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations You Probably Didn’t Know About.
- The Hispanic website La Informacion.com named it No. 1 among Las Celebraciones Mas Estramboticas del Dia de San Patricio. Estramboticas means weird or extravagant.
- The 2012 and 2013 parade was named among the Top 20 Events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Association.
- In 2012, the parade was named to the U.S. News Travel list of Top 10 America’s Best St. Patrick’s Day Parades.