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Walter Bruce Willis (Walter Willis, Bruno)

Walter Bruce Willis was born on March 19, 1955, in the town of Idar-Oberstein, West Germany. His father, David Willis (1929–2009), was an American soldier. His mother, Marlene, was German, born in Kassel. Willis is the oldest of four children; he has a sister, Florence, and a brother, David. His brother Robert died of pancreatic cancer in 2001, aged 42.

Background

  • Ethnicity: David Willis (father) had English, Dutch, French, Welsh, Irish ancestry. Marlene (mother) was German.

  • Walter Bruce Willis was born on March 19, 1955, in the town of Idar-Oberstein, West Germany. His father, David Willis (1929–2009), was an American soldier. His mother, Marlene, was German, born in Kassel. Willis is the oldest of four children; he has a sister, Florence, and a brother, David. His brother Robert died of pancreatic cancer in 2001, aged 42.

  • Education

    • After he graduated from high school in 1973, Willis took a job as a security guard at the Salem Nuclear Power Plant and transported work crews at the DuPont Chambers Works factory in Deepwater, New Jersey. After working as a private investigator (a role he would play in the television series Moonlighting and the 1991 film The Last Boy Scout), Willis turned to acting. He enrolled in the Drama Program at Montclair State University, where he was cast in the class production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Willis left school in his junior year in 1977 and moved to New York City, where in the early 1980s he supported himself as a bartender at the West 19th Street art bar Kamikaze.

    Career

    • After graduating from high school, Willis followed in his father's footsteps and found work with his hands, first in a chemical factory and then as a security guard, before returning to the classroom as a drama student at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Willis's interest in acting didn't wane, but eager to strike out on his own, he quit school after his sophomore year and moved to New York City to try and make it as a working actor.

      For Willis, whose acting heroes include Robert De Niro, Gary Cooper, Steve McQueen and John Wayne, work didn't come easy. He waited tables, tended bar and, when he had the chance, auditioned for roles. His first real break of any kind came in 1977, when he debuted in the off-Broadway play, Heaven and Earth. More stage work followed, but in 1980 Willis jumped over to film when he scored a bit role in the Frank Sinatra film, The First Deadly Sin. Two years later he landed another minor part in The Verdict, starring Paul Newman. There was some exposure on the television screen, too, with occasional appearances on episodes of Hart to Hart and Miami Vice.

      In 1984, after replacing Ed Harris in the off-Broadway hit, Fool for Love, Willis headed west to Hollywood to audition for the Madonna vehicle, Desperately Seeking Susan. He didn't get the part, but in a decision that would prove to be incredibly smart, stuck around an extra day so that he could audition for a new romantic comedy called Moonlighting, set to debut the following March on ABC.

      As the story goes, Willis dressed in combat fatigues and, donning a punk haircut, read for the part of David Addison, a wise-cracking private investigator. He wowed the TV executives with his gregariousness and charming attitude to beat out some 3,000 other actors.

      Co-starring Cybill Shepherd, the show revolved around the complicated, crime-solving duo of Maddie Hayes (Shepherd) and Addison, who ran a down-and-out Los Angeles private investigation firm, The Blue Moon Detective Agency.

      The show, which aired until May 1989, was a huge hit for ABC and an even bigger launching pad for Willis. "Women find him appealing, and guys have a fantasy that they could be like him," ABC talent vice-president Gary Pudney told People magazine. "That's why he's become such a valuable commodity to us so quickly."

      In 1987 he returned to film when he was matched with Kim Bassinger in the comedy, Blind Date. That same year, the actor hitched himself to a future of tabloid gossip when he married another star, Demi Moore. The couple, who divorced in 2000, have three children together: Rumer Willis (b. 1988), Scout LaRue Willis (b. 1991) and Tallulah Belle Willis (b. 1994).

      The same year as the release of Blind Date, Willis, an avid blues fan and harmonica player, stepped into the music studio for Motown Records to record Return to Bruno, a collection of bluesy soul songs that produced a modest sales return.

      If his music failed to turn him into the star he dreamed of being, his next film choice wouldn't. In the summer of 1988, Die Hard, an action-packed flick that cast Willis as the muscle-pumping hero, John McClane, hit movie screens across the country with a bang. Even before its release, the film had managed to catch some notice, in part because both Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger had turned down the McClane role. When movie executives settled on Willis, in part because he brought a level of warmth and humor to the character, they agreed to pay him $5 million, a huge sum for an actor many still considered a relative Hollywood novice.

      The viewing public didn't care. With Willis doing his own stunts and whipping out memorable one-liners, Die Hard garnered an impressive $81 million at the domestic box office and later spawned three sequels. It was just the start for Willis, who in the ensuing decades has starred in films that have grossed more than $3 billion in ticket sales.

      A year after Die Hard, Willis was at the wheel of another hit, and back in a full-on comedic role as the voice of Mikey, the ever-observant baby, in Look Who's Talking.

      His role as the English tabloid journalist in Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) drew mixed reviews, and in 1991 the action movie Hudson Hawk, a vanity project of sorts, which Willis wrote and starred in, proved to be a box office failure. Other, less memorable projects soon followed.

      Then, in 1994, Willis experienced a comeback of sorts when he took on the role of the weathered but still tough boxer, Butch Coolidge, in the Quentin Tarantino-directed smash hit, Pulp Fiction. Perhaps sensing the film was going to do well, Willis agreed to take a modest salary ($1,685 a week) in return for a share of the profits. The film went on to gross more than $100 million.

      From there a steady run of hits followed, from a third installment of the Die Hard series (Die Hard: With a Vengeance) in 1995, to the 1998 sci-fi action thriller, Armageddon. In 1999, Willis came through with one of his more memorable roles as child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe in the M. Night Shyamalan film, The Sixth Sense. Along the way, Willis kept busy with more comedy (The Whole Nine Yards) and a bevy of television appearances (Ally McBeal, Mad About You and Friends).

      "It's not just that he's so incredibly cool—it's that he makes you feel like you're cool too," crowed one film critic in 2007, "He is the bouncer who listens to you and smiles as he's tossing you from the bar."

      In 2010, Willis starred, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sylvester Stallone, in The Expendables. In August 2012, he reunited with the film's cast to star in a follow-up film, The Expendables 2. Within just one week, the movie had climbed to the No. 1 spot at the box office, bringing in nearly $28.6 million.

      In recent years, Willis has shown no signs of slowing down, demonstrating a range that mixes muscular intimidation (Sin City, Live Free or Die Hard) with sharp comedic timing (The Whole Ten Yards) that few actors can claim. His upcoming projects include the independent thriller Wake directed by John Pogue. In March 2015, plans were announced for Willis's Broadway debut in a stage adaptation of Stephen King's bestseller Misery.

    Major achievements

    • - His recording of "Respect Yourself" reached #5 in January 1987.

      - 1994: Maxim magazine ranked his sex scene in Color of Night the #1 sex scene in film history.

      - 1997: Ranked #22 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.

      - Was the first actor to ever "act" in a video game (Apocalypse (1998)). No one before had ever done voice work along with having their likeness and movements digitally added to the game, as well as receiving prominent billing on the game's cover.

      - 2002: Appointed as national spokesman for Children in Foster Care by President George W. Bush; Willis wrote online: "I saw Foster Care as a way for me to serve my country in a system by which shining a little bit of light could benefit a great deal by helping kids who were literally wards of the government."

      - 2006: Honored by French government for his contributions to the film industry; appointed an Officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters in a ceremony in Paris; the French Prime Minister stated, "This is France's way of paying tribute to an actor who epitomizes the strength of American cinema, the power of the emotions that he invites us to share on the world's screens and the sturdy personalities of his legendary characters."

      - 2006: Honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 16; located at 6915 Hollywood Boulevard and it was the 2,321st star awarded in its history; at the reception, he stated, "I used to come down here and look at these stars and I could never quite figure out what you were supposed to do to get one...time has passed and now here I am doing this, and I'm still excited. I'm still excited to be an actor."

      - 2011: Inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

      - 2013: Promoted to the dignity of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters on February 11 by French Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti.

    • The total number of films - 286.

    Works

    • The Return of Bruno
    • Classic Bruce Willis: The Universal Masters Collection

    Politics

    In 1988, Willis and then-wife Demi Moore campaigned for Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis's Presidential bid. Four years later, he supported President George H. W. Bush for reelection and was an outspoken critic of Bill Clinton. However, in 1996, he declined to endorse Clinton's Republican opponent Bob Dole, because Dole had criticized Demi Moore for her role in the film Striptease. Willis was an invited speaker at the 2000 Republican National Convention, and supported George W. Bush that year. He did not make any contributions or public endorsements in the 2008 presidential campaign. In several June 2007 interviews, he declared that he maintains some Republican ideologies.

    In 2006, he said that the United States should intervene more into Colombia, in order to end the drug trafficking. In several interviews Willis has said that he supports large salaries for teachers and police officers, and said he is disappointed in the United States foster care system as well as treatment of Native Americans. Willis also stated that he is a supporter of gun rights, stating, "Everyone has a right to bear arms. If you take guns away from legal gun owners, then the only people who have guns are the bad guys."

    In February 2006, Willis appeared in Manhattan to talk about his film 16 Blocks with reporters. One reporter attempted to ask Willis about his opinion on the current government, but was interrupted by Willis in mid-sentence: "I'm sick of answering this fucking question. I'm a Republican only as far as I want a smaller government, I want less government intrusion. I want them to stop shitting on my money and your money and tax dollars that we give 50 percent of every year. I want them to be fiscally responsible and I want these goddamn lobbyists out of Washington. Do that and I'll say I'm a Republican. I hate the government, OK? I'm apolitical. Write that down. I'm not a Republican."

    Willis' name was in an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times on August 17, 2006, that condemned Hamas and Hezbollah and supported Israel in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war.

    Religion

    Willis was, at one point, Lutheran (specifically Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod), but no longer practices. In a July 1998 interview with George magazine, he stated:

    Organized religions in general, in my opinion, are dying forms. ... They were all very important when we didn't know why the sun moved, why weather changed, why hurricanes occurred, or volcanoes happened. ... Modern religion is the end trail of modern mythology. But there are people who interpret the Bible literally. Literally! I choose not to believe that's the way. And that's what makes America cool, you know?

    Views

    Quotations: "I'm much more proud of being a father than being an actor".

    "You can't undo the past... but you can certainly not repeat it".

    :If you take guns away from legal gun owners, then the only people who would have guns would be the bad guys. Even a pacifist would get violent if someone were trying to kill him or her. You would fight for your life, whatever your beliefs".

    "Hair loss is God's way of telling me I'm human".

    "I'm really just a regular guy who has had an incredibly blessed life".

    "I just try to go to work, and concentrate on coming home to my girls".

    "I've always had confidence. Before I was famous, that confidence got me into trouble. After I got famous, it just got me into more trouble".

    "Fifty is the new forty. I always thought my best work would come in the years forty to sixty, if I was fortunate enough to hang around - and it is hard to stick around".

    "I'm happy every day".

    "Who I am as a father is far more important to me than the public perception".

    "When you think about where are you going to find that big love of your life, you seldom think it's someone you already know. You think it's someone you're yet to meet".

    Personality

    - He is 6 ft (1.83 m) tall.

    - Zodiac sign is Pisces.

    - Willis was very outgoing and outspoken as a child and as a teenager, but he had a hard time with the physical act of speaking due to a severe stutter he struggled with until the age of nine. According to an interview he gave to Reader’s Digest, Willis discovered a way to overcome his stutter by accident — he tried out for a part in his high school’s drama club production of ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ and as soon as he took the stage, he noticed his stutter was gone. “When I stepped off the stage, I started stuttering again,” Willis said. “And I went, ‘This is a miracle. I’ve got to investigate this more.’”

    - He personally recommended Michael Clarke Duncan for ‘The Green Mile’.

    - He was a talented wrestler in his high school days, but suffered a serious sprain that needed a surgery and left a scar on his right shoulder.

    - After high school, Willis took a job as a security guard at the Salem Nuclear Power Plant and also transported work crews at the DuPont Chambers Works factory in Deepwater, New Jersey.

    - He met a producer when he was tending a bar in Cafe Central, NY. He became a bartender after showing lack of skill in being a waiter.

    - Willis started pursuing acting work in New York City and eventually earned the interest of producers for the Madonna film 'Desperately Seeking Susan.' He didn't get the part but the day before he left, he tried out in a large casting call for the lead male role on ABC's 'Moonlighting.'

    - Bruce was arrested on Memorial Day 1987 after reportedly disturbing the peace and assaulting a police officer who was called to quiet a raucous party at his home. The charges were dropped after Willis agreed to apologize to his neighbors.

    - He is the co-founder of Planet Hollywood, , a theme restaurant inspired by the popular portrayal of Hollywood, along with actors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Demi Moore.

    - He was the first star to act in a video game by he lending his voice and body movement for Trey Kincaide in action game "Apocalypse".

    - He owns The Mint bar, the Liberty Theater and Hailey Drug Store in Hailey, Idaho, but the latter has gone idle since the early 1990s.

    - In 2001 Bruce Willis publicly stated that he would no longer appear in movies that featured violent action. He also stated that he would no longer appear in "save the world" films.

    - Along with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Charlton Heston, Willis was one of very few Hollywood celebrities to publicly support the Iraq war. While visiting the troops in 2003, he offered $1 million of his own money for the man who would capture Saddam Hussein. When Hussein was captured, it turned out that military rules prevent troops from collecting such a reward.

    - Bruce was chosen as the special ambassador in his birth town Idar-Oberstein since his 50th birthday.

    - Bruce Willis' net worth is $150 million.

    Connections

    • At the premiere for the film Stakeout, Willis met actress Demi Moore. They married on November 21, 1987, and had three daughters: Rumer Willis (born August 16, 1988), Scout (born July 20, 1991), and Tallulah (born February 3, 1994). They announced their separation on June 24, 1998, and filed for divorce on October 18, 2000. Regarding the divorce, Willis stated, "I felt I had failed as a father and a husband by not being able to make it work." He credited actor Will Smith for helping him cope with the situation. Willis has maintained a close relationship with both Moore and her third husband, actor Ashton Kutcher, and attended their wedding.

      Willis was engaged to actress Brooke Burns until they broke up in 2004 after ten months together. He married model Emma Heming in Turks and Caicos on March 21, 2009; guests included his three daughters, Demi Moore, and Ashton Kutcher. The ceremony was not legally binding, so the couple wed again in a civil ceremony in Beverly Hills, six days later. The couple has two daughters: Mabel Ray Willis (b. 2012) and Evelyn Penn Willis (b. 2014).
    • father: David Willis - soldier
      David willis had English, as well as Dutch, French, Welsh, Irish ancestry.
    • mother: Marlene Willis
      Marlene Willis has German ancestry.
    • brother: Robert Willis
    • brother: David Willis - producer
    • Sister: Flo Willis
    • paternal grandfather: Edgar George Willis
      He was born in Dover, Delaware, the son of Edgar Prettyman Willis and Cora Augusta Tarburton.
    • Paternal grandmother: Martha Florence Tingle
      She was born in Maryland, the daughter of David Henry Tingle and Julia Martha Parsons.
    • ex-wife: Demi Moore - United States - actress
      1987-2000, three daughters.
    • Wife: Emma Heming - United States - Actress and Model
      2009 - present, two children.
    • ex-girlfriend: Linda Fiorentino - United States - actress
      cohabited late 70s to early 80s
    • ex-girlfriend: Maria Bravo Rosado - Spain - model, producer, actress
      They were together in 1998-2000.
    • ex-girlfriend: Emily Sandberg - model
    • ex-girlfriend: Nadia Bjorlin - model
    • ex-girlfriend: Brooke Burns - United States - actress
      They were together in 2003-04.
    • Daughter: Rumer Willis - United States - actress
      She was born in 1988.
    • Daughter: Scout Larue Willis - United States
      She was born in 1991.
    • Daughter: Tallulah Belle Willis - United States
      She was born in 1994.
    • Daughter: Evelyn Penn Willis
    • Daughter: Mabel Ray Willis
      She was born in 2012.
    • Ex-girlfirend: Rachel Hunter - New Zealand - Model and Actress
      They were together in 2001.
    • Ex-girlfirend: Alisha Klass - United States - pornstar
      They were together in 2001.
    • Ex-girlfirend: Eva Jasanovska - model
      They were together in 2002.
    Walter Willis
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    • 1977
      Montclair State University
      New York, United States
    • 1980 - present
      Actor, producer, singer
      United States

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      • album: Classic Bruce Willis: The Universal Masters Collection
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