Though he would return to higher education nearly three decades later, Texas native G.W. Bailey left college and spent the mid-'60s working at local theater companies. Determined to establish an acting career for himself, a young Bailey moved to California in the 1970s and worked in a variety of settings. From appearances on television's [[Feature~V129193~Starsky and Hutch~starskyhutch[tvseries]]] and [[Feature~V174891~Charlie's Angels~charliesangels[tvseries]]] to stage productions of [[Performer~P314726~Shakespearian~williamshakespeare]] classics, Bailey, despite his lack of professional experience, proved a surprisingly versatile actor. He did not, however, attain significant mainstream recognition until 1981, when he was cast as pool-hall con artist Private Rizzo in CBS's long-running series [[Feature~V133103~M*A*S*H~mash[tvseries]]]. The exposure led to five large supporting roles on a variety of feature-length television dramas, and ultimately, a very different type of performance all together: that of the imposing yet incompetent Lieutenant Harris in the lowbrow cop comedy [[Feature~V38584~Police Academy~policeacademy]] (1984). His [[Feature~V38584~Police Academy~policeacademy]] role was reprised as sequels were churned out in rapid succession, and he was cast as a similarly inept authority figure in 1987's [[Feature~V31327~Mannequin~mannequin]].
Though the 1980s found Bailey immersed in fairly unmemorable film roles (mainly comedies and dark thrillers), he was able to forge a more than respectable resumé in the realm of television movies, including the popular [[Feature~V33831~Murder in Texas~murderintexas]] (NBC, 1981), On Our Way (CBS, 1985), [[Feature~V129712~Spy Games~undercover:undercover]] (ABC, 1991), and [[Feature~V147871~Dead Before Dawn~deadbeforedawn]] (ABC, 1993). His television roles offered a G.W. Bailey quite unlike Lieutenant Harris, and he was able to develop a following and a steady reputation as a supporting actor. Eventually, he was able to add "college graduate" to his list of accomplishments, as his mid-'90s stint at Southwest Texas State University proved successful as well. In 2004, Bailey lent his vocal chords to Disney's animated musical Western [[Feature~V290407~Home on the Range~homeontherange]].
He was cast as Lt. Provenza on The Closer, a show that would be for a time the highest rated scripted program on basic cable, and he would stay on the show for its entire run. ~ Tracie Cooper, Rovi