Bruce Vilanch

Bruce Vilanch Headshot

Writer • Actor

Birth Date: November 23, 1948

Age: 75 years old

Birth Place: New York, New York

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" (1998-2004), 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, 2000-01).

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.'"

Credits

A Disturbance in the ForceStream

Self
Movie
2023
100%

TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard SimmonsStream

Self
Special
2022

Limelight

Actor
Garrett Raynes
Movie
2018

Daily Blast Live

Guest
Show
2017

Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel

Actor
S.I.R.I.U.S./Janus
Movie
2016

Rupaul's Drag Race: RuVealed

Guest Star
Show
2015

Penn Zero: Part-Time HeroStream

Guest Star
Himself
Series
2014

Troy: Naked Boys Behind Bars, Sing!

Voice
The Director
Movie
2013

Tala ut!

Guest
Show
2012

Child of the '70s

Guest
Show
2012

Scrooge & Marley

Actor
Fezziwig
Movie
2012

Going Down in LA-LA Land

Actor
Missy
Movie
2011

Sister Mary

Actor
Farmer Jake
Movie
2011

Pride: The Gay and Lesbian Comedy Slam

Actor
Show
2010

The Adonis Factor

Actor
Movie
2010

Shark TankStream

Guest
Reality
2009

Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!

Actor
Max
Movie
2009

Laughing Matters ... the Men

Actor
Show
2008

You Don't Mess With the ZohanStream

Actor
Himself
Movie
2008
37%

You Don't Mess With the ZohanStream

Self
Movie
2008
37%

Tru Loved

Actor
Minister
Movie
2008

Outlaugh Festival on Wisecrack

Actor
Show
2007

Queer Duck: The Movie

Voice
Himself
Movie
2006

Call Me Claus

Self
Movie
2001

Circuit

Actor
Theater Stage Manager
Movie
2001

The 14th Annual American Comedy Awards

Writer
Show
2000

The 71st Annual Academy Awards

Writer
Show
1999

The 13th Annual American Comedy Awards

Writer
Show
1999

Get Bruce!

Self
Movie
1999

Jackie's Back!

Self
Movie
1999

Celine Dion: These Are Special Times

Writer
Show
1998

Sonny & Me: Cher Remembers

Writer
Show
1998

A Gala for the President at Ford's Theatre

Writer
Show
1998

Theater Talk

Guest
Show
1996

The NannyStream

Guest Star
Series
1993

Paula Poundstone

Producer
Show
1992

Fourth Story

Actor
Flower salesman
Movie
1991

The SimpsonsStream

Guest Voice
Himself
Series
1989
85%

It Nearly Wasn't Christmas

Actor
Philpot
Movie
1989

The Morning After

Actor
Bartender
Movie
1986

The Ice Pirates

Actor
Wendon
Movie
1984

Bosom Buddies

Guest Star
Series
1980

Divine Madness

Writer
Movie
1980

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special

Writer
Show
1976

MahoganyStream

Actor
Dress Manufacturer
Movie
1975
29%

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