skip navigation
Bruce Vilanch

Bruce Vilanch

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

The Ice Pirates DVD Galactic warriors and buccaneers, as well as an interplanetary Princess in... more info $5.99was $14.98 Buy Now

Tru Loved DVD Being a teenager is hard enough without your lesbian mothers uprooting you from... more info $24.98was $24.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Bruce Villanch, Bruce Vilanche Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Paterson, New Jersey, USA Profession: comedy writer, actor, comedian, TV personality, child model, journalist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the most sought-after jokesmiths in the entertainment industry, Bruce Vilanch has become a recognizable face in his own right, thanks to the feature-length documentary "Get Bruce!" (1999) and his stint as a regular on "Hollywood Squares" (1998- ), for which he also serves as head writer. Known for his eclectic eyewear and collection of unique T-shirts, he began as a child model for Lane Bryant, but when his initial efforts as an actor came to naught, he became an entertainment writer for the Chicago Tribune instead. Impressed by his review of her cabaret performance in 1970, Bette Midler hired him to punch up her act, and he later moved to Los Angeles where he wrote for variety shows like the original "Donny and Marie" and "The Brady Bunch Hour" (both ABC) and provided material for Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin and Joan Rivers. He has maintained his connection with Midler through the years, working on such projects as the feature "Divine Madness" (1980) and the TV special "Bette Midler--Diva Las Vegas" (HBO, 1997), as well as writing for her sitcom "Bette!" (CBS, 2000- ).Vilanch began contributing to Academy Awards telecasts in 1989, collaborating with the likes of Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg...

One of the most sought-after jokesmiths in the entertainment industry, Bruce Vilanch has become a recognizable face in his own right, thanks to the feature-length documentary "Get Bruce!" (1999) and his stint as a regular on "Hollywood Squares" (1998- ), for which he also serves as head writer. Known for his eclectic eyewear and collection of unique T-shirts, he began as a child model for Lane Bryant, but when his initial efforts as an actor came to naught, he became an entertainment writer for the Chicago Tribune instead. Impressed by his review of her cabaret performance in 1970, Bette Midler hired him to punch up her act, and he later moved to Los Angeles where he wrote for variety shows like the original "Donny and Marie" and "The Brady Bunch Hour" (both ABC) and provided material for Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin and Joan Rivers. He has maintained his connection with Midler through the years, working on such projects as the feature "Divine Madness" (1980) and the TV special "Bette Midler--Diva Las Vegas" (HBO, 1997), as well as writing for her sitcom "Bette!" (CBS, 2000- ).

Vilanch began contributing to Academy Awards telecasts in 1989, collaborating with the likes of Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and David Letterman, and graduated to head writer in 2000. The Whoopi connection led to his providing the notorious material Ted Danson performed in blackface at a certain 1993 Friars Club roast of his then-girlfriend Goldberg, but his resume also includes "You Made Me Watch You", the touching Emmy-winning valedictory Midler crooned as a send-off to Johnny Carson. He made his feature debut as a dress manufacturer in "Mahogany' (1975), starring Diana Ross (to whose act he also contributed), and put his Muppet-like persona to excellent use as Santa's number one helper in the syndicated TV-movie "It Nearly Wasn't Christmas" (1989). On the heels of "Get Bruce!", Vilanch performed his comedy stylings Off-Broadway in "Bruce Vilanch: Almost Famous" (2000). After a first act reminiscing on his odd path to almost famousness, he opened up the floor to questions in Act II, displaying his amazing ability for off-the-cuff one-liners. As he told US WEEKLY (June 12, 2000), there is a downside to celebrity: "Now, I get knocked if someone tries something that doesn't work. Before it was the fault of these anonymous people, 'the writers.'"

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Vito (2011)
4.
 Spring Breakdown (2009)
7.
 Tru Loved (2008)
8.
9.
 Naked Fame (2005) Cast
10.
 Circuit (2001)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Worked as a child model ("charming chub" division) for Lane Bryant
:
Co-starred with Talulah Bankhead in summer stock
:
Became an entertainment reporter for <i>Chicago Tribune</i>
1970:
Impressed by review of her cabaret performance, Bette Midler hired him to punch up her act; Vilanch introduced her to work of entertainer Sophie Tucker, a mainstay of her act
1975:
Feature debut as a dress designer in Berry Gordy's "Mahogany", starring Diana Ross
1975:
Moved to L.A. to write for the short-lived "The Manhattan Transfer" (CBS) variety show; later wrote for variety shows like the original "Donny and Marie" and "The Brady Bunch Hour" (both ABC)
1978:
Helped write the Broadway flop "Platinum"
1980:
Co-wrote screenplay for "Divine Madness", starring Midler as the Divine Miss M
:
Began contributing a regular column to <i>The Advocate</i>; eventually called "Notes From a Blond"
1989:
First time as writer for the Academy Awards; earned a shared Emmy (2009, 2010) nomination for Outstanding Writing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Special
1989:
Portrayed Philpot, Santa's number one helper, in syndicated TV-movie "It Nearly Wasn't Christmas"
1990:
Reteamed with Midler on "An Evening With Bette, Cher, Goldie, Meryl, Olivia, Lily and Robin" (ABC)
1993:
Provided the material that Ted Danson performed in blackface for the notorious Friars Club roast of then-girlfriend Whoopi Goldberg
1997:
Reunited with Midler for "Bette Midler--Diva Las Vegas" (HBO)
1998:
Was regular on the sydicated "Hollywood Squares", sitting in close proximity to Goldberg in her center square; also served as head writer
1999:
Subject of feature-length documentary "Get Bruce!"
1999:
Wrote Nathan Lane's "coming out" story for <i>The Advocate</i>
2000:
Penned music and lyrics for the comedy song "My Bill Gates" for "The 14th Annual American Comedy Awards"; garnered Emmy nomination
2000:
First time as head writer for the Academy Awards
2000:
Starred Off-Broadway in "Bruce Vilanch: Almost Famous", a one-man cabaret-style show in which he sang and told stories about working behind the scenes in Hollywood
2000:
Wrote for Midler's sitcom "Bette!" (CBS)
2001:
Headlined one-man show "Bruce! A Month of Mondays" in Beverly Hills, California
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Ohio State University: Columbus , Ohio -

Notes

On Barbra Streisand, for whom he has written frequently: "I think she's great, but over the years I've written 18 benefits for her and never made a dime. If I had to survive off what I've made from Barbra, I'd be living in a refrigerator carton. They'd be sending some of that 'Comic Relief' homeless money to me. It would literally be 'Comic Relief'." --Vilanch to Michael Logan in TV Guide, September 18, 1999.

About writing for the Academy Awards telecast: "A lot of actresses and actors . . . they can do several takes if they're working for Stanley Kubrick, but they don't know quite what it's like to come out on stage and be themselves. They have no stage character. So that's the challenge, to help them get one, even for a minute when they're out there, so that they entertain the audience.

"If they're used to playing an action hero all the time, and they've never been in front of the camera without a weapon, this is a real test to have them just come there and be themselves. That's why it's difficult." --Vilanch to Stuart Levine in Daily Variety, March 5, 2000.

Vilanch helped script the Academy Awards telecast hosted by David Lettterman: "I was standing in the wings with him and said, 'Well, are you having fun?' and he said, 'I feel like I'm in a hostage situation.'" --Vilanch in Daily Variety, March 5, 2000.

Responding to Donny Osmond's commenting "You look like a Muppet" on their first meeting: "Funny you should say that. Jim Henson had his fist up my ass not ten minutes ago." --From Time Out New York, April 27-May 4, 2000.

"I could direct Bruce's act. I AM Bruce's act. I just hope the house is big enough for him. But I don't think he should give up his day job. He's making a fortune." --Bette Midler to Joanne Kaufman in New York, May 15, 2000.

"I was always out. Years ago. I read a comment by Merle Miller that a fag is a homosexual gentleman who's just left the room. And I thought, If they're going to make fag jokes, they're going to have to make them to my face." --Vilanch in New York, May 15, 2000.

"There was no design to this. I gave up on finding fame a long time ago. But after not really chasing celebrity, the celebrity began happening by accident.

"I don't have a grand plan. But I'm doing pretty well without one. I like what I'm doing, and people seem to be impressed by what I have achieved." --Vilanch quoted in US Weekly, June 12, 2000.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Hennie Vilanch. Had thwarted show business ambitions; adoptive parent; Vilanch revived her career with guest appearances on "Hollywood Squares"; featured in the documentary "Get Bruce!".

Bibliography close complete biography

"Bruce! My Adventures in the Skin Trade" Tarcher/Putnam

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute