Walter Bruce Willis was born
on a military base in Idar-Oberstein (former West Germany),
on March 19, 1955. His father David was a welder and factory
worker who took the Willis family back to New Jersey after
being discharged from the military in 1957.
Settling down in New Jersey,
young Bruce, who was the eldest of four children, led an active
childhood. Although he was always an outgoing youngster, Willis
grew up with a stutter and found it easier to express himself
while onstage, performing in front of an audience. This is
why his high school days were marked with a drama club membership,
as well as the student council presidency.
Rather than go to college after
graduation, Willis took the route of his father as a blue-collar
worker, transporting work crews at the Du Pont factory. He
decided to quit after a colleague was killed on the job, and
thereafter became a regular at several bars. Willis also discovered
an innate knack for playing the harmonica, and did so for
an R&B group, Loose Goose.
After a stint as a bodyguard
(which he actually plays in his recent movie, Unbreakable),
Willis returned to his original passion: acting. He enrolled
in the drama program at Montclair State College, where he
was cast in the class production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
The ambitious junior finally decided to leave school in pursuit
of more lucrative movie roles by heading for the Big Apple.
Willis returned to the bar scene,
only this time for a part-time job and as a way to schmooze
with New York celebrities. After countless auditions, Willis
finally made his theater debut in the off-Broadway production
of Heaven and Earth. He gained more experience and exposure
in Fool for Love, a stint on television's Miami Vice, and
a Levi's campaign.
But Willis got his big break
when he was cast as smart-talking David Addison, in ABC's
Moonlighting, despite network executives who wanted to hand
the role to a more experienced thespian. Willis and Cybill
Shepherd's chemistry made Moonlighting a sensation, and after
4 years of sexual tension and high ratings, Moonlighting's
days were over.
After a bombing in the slapstick
comedy Blind Date, Willis found what became his trademark
role in 1988; detective John McClane in the actioner, Die
Hard. He then lent his voice to the sleeper comedy Look Who's
Talking a year later, and reprised his Die Hard role in the
Unfortunately, Willis' career
was on its way to dying hard. He starred in consecutive bombs,
such as The Bonfire of the Vanities, Hudson Hawk, Death Becomes
Her, and Striking Distance (co-starring the lovely Sarah Jessica
Parker), and was becoming more famous as the husband of "it" girl, Demi Moore.
Thankfully, his role in 1991's
The Last Boy Scout featured Willis in the type of action role
that gave him star power to begin with, which helped keep
the actor's head above water. But it was his role as Butch
Coolidge in the cult classic film, Pulp Fiction, that gave
Willis the knockout punch that salvaged his career.
He followed up his 1994 Pulp
role with an excellent performance in Nobody's Fool, and went
back to basics with the blockbuster, Die Hard: With a Vengeance,
the third installment of the successful franchise. It was
uphill from thereon in, with hit movies Twelve Monkeys, co-starring
Brad Pitt, 1997's Fifth Element, opposite the perfect Milla
Jovovich, and the blockbuster Armageddon, which was more moneymaker
than quality. The Jackal and Mercury Rising were neither.
In 1999, Willis starred in the
film adaptation of the novel by the same name, Breakfast of
Champions, and was welcomed into the $20 million club with
his chilling role in The Sixth Sense. The record-breaking,
critically acclaimed movie that featured Willis as child psychiatrist
Dr. Malcolm Crowe can be considered one of his best roles
to date. That same year, Willis co-starred with Michelle Pfeiffer
in The Story of Us, and starred as hit man Jimmy "The
Tulip" in the disappointing, The Whole Nine Yards.
It was on the set of the latter
that Willis became chummy with Friends star Matthew Perry,
which led to Willis' Emmy-winning recurring role in the hit
NBC sitcom. Willis can add his Emmy to his mantle, where his
1987 Emmy for his role in Moonlighting, as well as his Golden
Globe for Best Actor in a television series for the same role
Willis was last seen in the summer
Disney film, The Kid, and as invincible David Dunn in M. Night
A tabloid favorite since his
Moonlighting days, Willis made headlines in 1998 when his
13-year marriage to Demi Moore, came to an end. The former
couple have three daughters together, Rumer Glenn, Scout LaRue
and Tallulah Belle. Willis was last romantically linked with
Spanish model/businesswoman, Mario Bravo Rosado.
One of the stars to hold a stake
in the dying Planet Hollywood restaurant chain and considered
one of today's most powerful actors, Willis will next be seen
in the films Hart's War and Bandits.