Television host Billy Bush was born in New York City in October 1971. He started working for radio stations in New England and Washington, D.C., which led to joining Access Hollywood in 2001 as a correspondent. There, his lively interview style set him apart from other entertainment reporters, and he became a co-anchor in 2004. In May 2016, Bush announced he was leaving Access Hollywood to join the cast of the Today show.
Billy Bush was born William Hall Bush on October 13, 1971, in New York City to Josephine and Jonathan Bush. Bush and his brother Jonathan grew up on New York’s Upper East Side. After high school, he headed north for college and attended Colby College, a liberal-arts school in Waterville, Maine. There, Bush served as the men's lacrosse team captain and took interest in the college radio station during his senior year.
In 1994, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and government, a fitting major from someone in his family: Bush is cousins with President George W. Bush and former Florida governor Jeb Bush and is the nephew of President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush.
But politics and government didn’t sway Billy Bush; instead, the time he spent as a DJ for Colby’s student radio station led him to take a job after graduation with a radio station in New Hampshire. He sold ads by day and took to the airwaves as DJ by night. It was there that Bush set his sights on a broadcast career. He made a demo reel of his radio work and began sending it out to radio stations in hopes of taking that next step up the career ladder.
Before long, Bush landed a new DJ gig on a classic rock station in Washington, D.C., where he soon moved to host the station’s daily talk show. Bush was a natural, and his skills earned him the Washington Air Award for emerging talent. With that success, Bush was offered his own morning show on a new top-40 D.C. station, a show that was aptly named Bush League.
The show was a running gag reel, and Bush’s personality and on-air antics ensured that he made a name for himself with the morning-drive crowd. But Bush ran out of steam, and he was let go the same week his cousin George W. Bush took office as U.S. president.
'Access Hollywood '
Bush moved back to New York to work as a freelancer for the local show Today in New York. But it was a 2001 appearance on CNN that took him to the next level, when he was noticed on air and quickly hired by NBC for Access Hollywood, where he became the new East Coast correspondent. Also during this period, Bush was a correspondent for The Today Show, hosted a failed revival of the classic game show Let’s Make a Deal and took on the co-hosting duties for the Miss Universe pageant for three years.
But it would be Access Hollywood that made Bush a household name, as his easy demeanor and charming smile made him a star on the celebrity interview circuit. Over his decade and a half with Access Hollywood, Bush interviewed every celebrity imaginable while covering all major Hollywood awards shows, such as the Golden Globes, Grammys and Academy Awards. He's also reported from several Olympic games in Greece, Italy and Beijing and was part of the NBC team that covered the British royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Bush also stayed in touch with his radio roots with such nationally broadcast shows as The Billy Bush Show and PopCrush.
In May 2016, Bush left Access Hollywood to join the cast of the Today show. In August, he joined the show during its coverage of the Summer Olympics in Rio. Just two months later, in October 2016, Bush was embroiled in a controversy involving Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump when The Washington Post released a 2005 recording of Trump speaking to Bush, who was then co-anchor of Access Hollywood, about kissing and groping women, and trying to have sex with television personality Nancy O’Dell, who was married at the time. The three-minute recording captured the vulgar conversation between Trump and Bush as they were preparing to meet soap opera actress Arianne Zucker for a segment of the show. "I’ve gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump said in the recording which was caught on a microphone that had not been turned off. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything."
The controversy broke just two days prior to Trump's second presidential debate with Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, and the backlash was immediate with angry comments posted on the Today show and Bush’s Facebook pages. Bush released a statement saying he was “embarrassed and ashamed” about his part in the conversation. "It's no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago — I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I'm very sorry," he said.
The Today show suspended Bush indefinitely pending “further review” of his involvement in the recording. On October 17, 2016, NBC announced that Bush was leaving the show after reaching a settlement with the network. Today senior vice president Noah Oppenheim sent out a memo to show staff saying: "Billy Bush will be leaving the Today show's 9 a.m. hour, effective today. While he was a new member of the Today team, he was a valued colleague and longtime member of the broader NBC family. We wish him success as he goes forward."
Bush said in a statement: "I am deeply grateful for the conversations I've had with my daughters, and for all of the support from family, friends and colleagues. I look forward to what lies ahead."
Billy Bush and his wife Sydney Davis were married in 1998 and the couple has three daughters, Josephine, Mary and Lillie.
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