Bruce Vilanch is an American comedy writer, songwriter, and actor, best known for writing the Oscar Awards ceremony between 1989 and 2014. Born in New York City and raised in New Jersey, Bruce had theatrical aspirations ever since he was a kid. He began working as a child model when he was little kid and acted in many theatrical productions as an actor, upon growing up. He began his writing career in the mid-1970s when he began writing articles for the entertainment section of The Chicago Tribune. During the early phase of his career, he worked with popular singer named Bette Midler, writing for her Broadway show titled ‘Clams on the Half Shell’ and ‘Divine Madness.’ In 1980, he also began writing articles for the LGBT-interest magazine titled ‘The Advocate’ and he serves as a writer for the magazine to this day. As for his acting career, he has appeared in films such as ‘Mahogany’ and ‘The Ice Pirates,’ along with television series’ such as ‘Law & Order’ and ‘Bosom Buddies.’ In addition, he has also appeared in several non-fiction television shows and documentary films. He is however best known for writing many Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award functions during the course of his career.
Childhood & Early Life
Bruce Vilanch was born in New York City, on November 23, 1948. Soon after he was born, he was given up for adoption and was adopted as a four days old baby by Jonas and Henne Vilanch. Jonas was an optometrist while his wife was a homemaker.
He grew up in Paterson, New Jersey as the only child in the family. His mother Henne was a theatre enthusiast back in her times and Bruce was very close to her when he was a kid. He now says that most of his sense of humour has been inherited from her. She was also a dancer and was interested in show business but she never quite managed to do anymore than a few shows in New Jersey.
When he was a teenager, Bruce suffered from teenage angst and wanted to find his real parents. But eventually it subsided and when Jonas told Bruce that he could find his real parents when he turned 21, he denied.
Bruce had developed a keen interest in the prospect of becoming a performer as a teenager. He was an avid consumer of television shows and films.
His mother had launched his show business career when he was very young. He was a chubby kid and she enrolled him into Lane Bryant’s Charming Chub division. And hence, Bruce began his modelling career.
Upon growing up, he aspired to become an actor and as he graduated from high school, he enrolled into the Ohio State University studying theatre and journalism. While in college, he participated in many theatrical plays as an actor, while also writing reviews for plays. Hence he began his writing career. He eventually began his career as a playwright.
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He started his career in the show business world as a writer for the entertainment section of The Chicago Tribune Magazine. As he began writing more and more features on Hollywood, he was getting the opportunity to spend time with Hollywood celebrities.
During this phase, he met and befriended the then struggling nightclub singer named Bette Midler. Bruce was also into writing Broadway shows with his main genre being comedy. He wrote Bette’s Broadway show titled ‘Clams on the Half Shell.’ The Broadway became successful and Bruce went further deeper into Hollywood fame.
In the late 1970s, he finally moved to Los Angeles and worked on many television projects as a writer. He was one of the writers on the very popular ‘Donny & Marie Show.’ The variety series was hugely successful as it invited many film and television stars over the years.
He also co-wrote the 1980 concert film titled ‘Divine Madness,’ for his friend Bette Midler. In addition, he was also the main writer for the show titled ‘Star Wars Holiday Special.’
In 1980, he also began writing for the bi-monthly magazine titled ‘The Advocate,’ which was primarily a magazine targeted towards the LGBT community interests.
He also wrote for the short lived ‘Brady Brunch Variety Hour.’ Although the show turned out to be a failure, Bruce’s work received appreciation, and he went on writing comedy for popular names in comedy such as Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Roseanne Barr and Lily Tomlin.
He further joined hands with Whoopi Goldberg and served as a writer for the show ‘Hollywood Squares’ for 4 years.
He also served as a songwriter occasionally. Some of the songs that he wrote are titled ‘Where Is My Man’ and ‘Sex Over the Phone.’
In 2008, he wrote the show titled ‘The Showgirl Must Go On’ along with old friend Bette. The show was a big hit. He also attained further more success writing the 2010 show titled ‘An Evening with Friends.’
In 1989, he wrote for the Oscar Awards ceremony for the first time. He provided show business related jokes to the show’s hosts. However, he was a co-writer hired to write jokes until the late 1990s. In 2000, he became the head writer for the awards ceremony and continued on the position until 2014.
In addition, he has also written for many other award ceremonies such as Grammy and Emmy Awards. He has also written Tony Awards many times, an award function dedicated to theatrical artists.
Bruce has also worked as an occasional actor. He made his acting debut in 1975, playing a small role in the film titled ‘Mahogany.’ He has also appeared in films such as ‘Breathless’ and ‘The Ice Pirates.’ In addition, he has appeared making guest appearances in series’ such as ‘Bosom Buddies’ and ‘Law & Order.’
He was the main subject of the 1999 documentary film titled ‘Get Bruce!’ The film exhibited his life as an entertainment writer and many celebrities who had worked with him appeared on the film, along with his mother.
For his work over the years, Bruce has won two Emmy Awards for writing Oscar Awards and four other Emmys for writing variety TV shows.
Family & Personal Life
Bruce Vilanch is known for his distinct physical appearance. He is overweight, keeps long blonde hair and wears very uniquely framed glasses.
He is gay and claims that he is still single. There also is no record of any of his past relationship, neither has he confirmed so.
He is associated with a few charities that work towards spreading awareness towards HIV/AIDS.