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.
Jim came to national attention through his role in Edward Zwick's film "About Last Night" with Rob Lowe and Demi Moore, playing the role he originated in the Chicago Apollo Theatre's production of David Mamet's Obie-award winning play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago".