Bruce Gerald Vilanch (born November 23, 1948) is an American comedy writer, songwriter and actor. He is a six-time Emmy Award-winner. Vilanch is best known to the public for his four-year stint on Hollywood Squares, as a celebrity participant; behind the scenes he was head writer for the show. In 2000, he performed off-Broadway in his self-penned one-man show, Bruce Vilanch: Almost Famous.
Vilanch in 2008
|Born||November 23, 1948|
|Occupation||Writer, songwriter, actor|
Vilanch was born in New York City and raised in Paterson, New Jersey. When he was four days old, he was adopted by Jonas Vilanch, an optometrist, and his wife Henne, a housewife. Having her own theatrical aspirations, Vilanch's mother helped launch her son's show business career by getting him signed on with Lane Bryant's Charming Chub division as a chubby child model. Upon graduating from high school, Vilanch attended Ohio State University as a theater and journalism student. While there, he appeared in student theater productions and wrote reviews, hoping it would be the beginning of a career as a playwright. In 1999 Vilanch stated, "I was going to be Neil Simon, batting out one Broadway show after another."
Vilanch's career in the entertainment industry began with writing features for The Chicago Tribune. As an entertainment writer, he began spending time with as many celebrities as would let him. It was how he met then-struggling nightclub singer Bette Midler. Becoming friends, Vilanch later wrote comedy material for Midler's 1974 Broadway show Clams on the Half Shell and co-wrote Divine Madness for her in 1980.
Following a move to Los Angeles, Vilanch was a co-writer for The Donny & Marie Show, 1978's negatively received Star Wars Holiday Special, and the short-lived Brady Bunch Variety Hour. After cancellation of the Brady Bunch show, he went on to write jokes for Lily Tomlin, Billy Crystal, Roseanne Barr, Rosie O'Donnell, Paul Reiser, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, and Robin Williams.
The night before the final broadcast of Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show, Bette Midler serenaded Carson with "You Made Me Watch You", to the tune of "You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It)", with lyrics written by Vilanch, the farewell song later winning an Emmy award. For four years, Vilanch was head writer and celebrity square on Hollywood Squares, next to friend and client Whoopi Goldberg. Since 1980, Vilanch has been a reporter and columnist for The Advocate, writing both humorous and serious pieces. Bruce!: My Adventures in the Skin Trade and Other Essays, a 2000 collection of his writings, was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award.
When asking him to write material for one of her concert tours, Barbra Streisand offered what Vilanch felt was a "ridiculously low" wage. Vilanch declined her offer. She later asked him to write for one of her upcoming Las Vegas appearances.
As a songwriter, Vilanch co-wrote "Where Is My Man" with musicians Fred Zarr and Jacques Morali. The song was popularized by singer/actress Eartha Kitt in 1983. Also with Zarr and Morali, Vilanch co-wrote "Sex Over the Phone," a minor hit for the Village People that later became a cult favorite.
In 2008, Vilanch co-wrote The Showgirl Must Go On with Midler. The show opened at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, receiving positive reviews. Stage and screen veteran Florence Henderson and Vilanch teamed for An Evening with Friends in 2010. The show featured Henderson sharing songs and stories from her career on stage, screen, and television. Vilanch had a longstanding friendship with Henderson, writing for her one-woman show as well as several of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour episodes in the early 1980s.
Vilanch wrote for the Academy Awards from 1989 to 2014, providing topical joke material for the show's hosts. In the 1990s, Vilanch collaborated with hosts Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman and Billy Crystal. He became head writer in 2000, serving until 2014.
Among Vilanch's duties as Oscar writer were coming up with additional jokes for the host based on unexpected events that have occurred during the telecast. Most memorably, at the 1992 ceremony he came up with a series of one-liners that host Billy Crystal told throughout the night after 73-year-old Jack Palance (Crystal's City Slickers co-star) did one-armed push-ups during his Best Supporting Actor acceptance speech.
In a 2010 Vanity Fair interview, Vilanch was asked for whom he wrote the Oscars show jokes, replying: "I write across the board. Every year it breaks down differently, depending on the host, but as we get closer to the date, all of the writers tend to be writing over each other. Everyone's contributing to everybody else's work. There are four of us writing the actual show, and you end up writing and rewriting so many things at the same time. So I do a little of everything. There's a lot of mileage involved in writing for the Academy Awards, you go through a lot of hoops." When asked if he could see himself doing the job for another 21 years, he replied: "Absolutely. It's the greatest show on Earth. It's like asking somebody, 'Hey, would you like to play in the Super Bowl next year?' Did anybody get into football not to play in the Super Bowl? Does anybody get into show business not to do the biggest show in the world?"
In 1975, Vilanch made his feature film début playing a dress manufacturer in the film Mahogany, starring Diana Ross. His professional relationship with Ross continued by writing material for her stage act.
In the 1980s, Vilanch had a few acting appearances, including a bit part in an episode of Bosom Buddies and a brief scene in Breathless with his longtime friend Richard Gere. In 1984, he had a role in the comedy/science-fiction film The Ice Pirates. In the 1990s, Vilanch appeared on TV again in Law & Order.
Bruce Vilanch's first television appearance as himself was in 1988, when he was interviewed by Chris Aable, the host and producer of the cable show Hollywood Today.
He played himself in the 2008 film, You Don't Mess with the Zohan.
Vilanch was the subject of Andrew J. Kuehn's 1999 documentary Get Bruce! The film included interviews with Bette Midler, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, and Whoopi Goldberg and grossed 43 thousand dollars in the domestic market. Vilanch's mother, whom he credits with developing his sense of humor, also appeared in the documentary.
The documentary Laughing Matters...The Men, also released as Laughing Matters: Gay Comedy in America (2007), featured Vilanch alongside Alec Mapa, Bob Smith, Scott Kennedy, Andre Kelley and Eddie Sarfaty.
As well as performing in non-profit benefits, Vilanch's charitable work includes serving on the honorary board of Aid For AIDS and once serving as master of ceremonies for the Los Angeles organization's largest annual fundraiser, "Quest for the Crown" (later changed to "Best In Drag Show").
Vilanch emceed the event "Dancers Responding to AIDS", a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, in 2009 and 2010. In October 2010, Vilanch co-wrote and hosted the Los Angeles PAWS fundraiser, "An Evening with Tab Hunter".
Vilanch has won two consecutive Emmy Awards for his writing of the Academy Award telecasts as well as an additional four Emmys for Outstanding Variety Show.
Vilanch is known for his physical appearance, particularly his weight, his long blonde hair, distinctive glasses, frequently with brightly coloured frames, and his collection of double entendres-themed T-shirts.
The 44th Primetime Emmy Awards were held on Sunday, August 30, 1992. The ceremony was broadcast on Fox from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. It was hosted by Tim Allen, Kirstie Alley and Dennis Miller, and directed by Walter C. Miller. Presenters included Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold, Scott Bakula, Candice Bergen, Corbin Bernsen, Beau Bridges, Lloyd Bridges, and Cindy Crawford. The program was written by Buddy Sheffield and Bruce Vilanch. Over 300 million people watched the ceremony in 30 countries. A rule change, instituted for this year only, stated that regular and guest performers would compete in the same category. There could be lead guest or supporting guest.
On the comedy side, Murphy Brown won Outstanding Comedy Series for the second time, winning three major awards on the night, the most for a comedy series. On the drama side, L.A. Law's strangle hold on Outstanding Drama Series came to an end, as Northern Exposure took home the award. Northern Exposure also won three major awards and received nine major nominations, which tied for the most in each category. For the first time in its run, The Golden Girls, then in its seventh and final season, was not nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series.
For the first time, the Lead Actor, Drama award went outside the Big Four television networks to a cable network show: Christopher Lloyd in Road to Avonlea, from the Disney Channel.
After being on the air for thirty years, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson finally heard its name called when its final season won for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Program. The show was first nominated for the category in 1964 and was 0/13 before this ceremony.
As of the 2018 Emmy ceremony, this was the last year where the Big Four broadcast networks received all the nominations in both the Comedy and Drama Series categories.Fred Zarr
Frederick I. Zarr (born 1955) is an American musician, songwriter and song producer based in Brooklyn, New York. The CEO of BiZarr Music, Inc., he works alongside numerous singers and songwriters at his Brooklyn recording studio.Get Bruce
Get Bruce (sometimes stylized as Get Bruce!) is a 1999 American documentary film starring Bruce Vilanch, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, Lily Tomlin, Shirley MacLaine, Steven Seagal, Carol Burnett and Michael Douglas. The film is directed by Andrew J. Kuehn.Love to Love You Bradys
Love to Love You Bradys: The Bizarre Story of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour is a 2009 coffee table book written by The Brady Bunch actress Susan Olsen with co-authors Ted Nichelson and Lisa Sutton, about the 1976–77 spin-off TV variety show The Brady Bunch Hour. The book's release also coincided with the 40th anniversary of the debut of The Brady Bunch.
The book asserts that the spin-off is noteworthy in television history for being, in Olsen's words, "spectacularly bad"; in 2002, it was ranked in the top five worst shows of all time by TV Guide. Olsen details how The Brady Bunch franchise was taken over by the ABC network in 1976 and the rights were awarded to Donny & Marie producers Sid and Marty Krofft (without the knowledge or permission of creator Sherwood Schwartz) to produce an all-new variety show starring The Brady Bunch. Olsen also reveals behind-the-scenes accounts of the actors' private lives during this period of time, including Maureen McCormick's drug abuse and her failure to show up for taping of the show.
The book's title is based on the title of the 1975 disco song "Love to Love You Baby". The variety series was cancelled after nine episodes.The book features previously unpublished photographs, and interviews, including those with Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick, Christopher Knight, Geri Reischl ("Fake Jan"), Mike Lookinland, Ann B. Davis, Sherwood Schwartz, Lloyd J. Schwartz, Sid and Marty Krofft, Rip Taylor, Bruce Vilanch and Paul Shaffer. Additional memories by cast members Florence Henderson, Robert Reed, and Eve Plumb are also included.Michelle Shields
Michelle Shields (born September 5) is an American actress, model and singer. She is primarily known for her roles in various horror films including starring as Elizabeth in Frankenstein: Day of the Beast, acting opposite of horror legend Linnea Quigley in Post Mortem America, 2021 in a featured role, appearing in Sister Mary, and having on screen roles in blockbusters such as The Dark Knight.
Shields has worked with the likes of Lloyd Kaufman, Larry Thomas, James Vallo, and Bruce Vilanch. She also does work in television and stage. She also stars in several comics produced by Comic Book Divas. Shields is also a multi-time featured guest at the annual Days of the Dead convention, the Wheaton All Night conventions and Days of Terror, as well as many others.
She was recently cast as the lead in the feature film Llorona and a featured role in the remake of Night of the Living Dead.Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!!
Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!! is a 2009 comedy film directed, written, and produced by Evgeny Afineevsky and starring Lainie Kazan, Saul Rubinek, Vincent Pastore, John Lloyd Young, Jai Rodriguez, Bruce Vilanch, Fred Swink and Carmen Electra. The theme song, "The Word Is Love" was written by Desmond Child and performed by Lulu. "The Word is Love" was contending for nominations in the Original Song category for the 82nd Academy Awards.Platinum (musical)
Platinum is a musical with a book by Will Holt and Bruce Vilanch, music by Gary William Friedman, and lyrics by Holt. Set in a Hollywood recording studio, it centers on Lila Halliday, a star of 1940s and 1950s movie musicals who is attempting a comeback. In the process, she falls for a young rock star named Dan Riley.Pokey Mom
"Pokey Mom" is the tenth episode of the twelfth season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 14, 2001. In the episode, Marge befriends Jack Crowley, a convict who she believes has some artistic potential. With Marge's help, Jack is granted parole and finds a mural-painting job at Springfield Elementary School. Meanwhile, Homer suffers from a back injury and goes to see a chiropractor. Despite this his pain remains and it is not until he accidentally falls backwards onto a garbage can that his back injury disappears. Homer makes a successful business out of this injury-healing garbage can, much to the dismay of chiropractors in town.
The episode was written by Tom Martin and directed by Bob Anderson, and it features guest appearances from Michael Keaton as Jack, Charles Napier as a prison warden, Robert Schimmel as a prisoner, and Bruce Vilanch as himself. The title "Pokey Mom" is a pun on the video game franchise "Pokémon" and the term "pokey", a nickname given to prisons. "Pokey Mom" has been met with generally negative reviews from critics, being described as bland and drawn out. The staff members of the series received complaints from chiropractors after it aired, and some chiropractors have characterized the portrayal of the profession in the episode as stereotypical. Around 8.79 million American homes tuned in to watch the episode during its original airing, and in 2009 it was released on DVD along with the rest of the episodes of the twelfth season.Sex Over the Phone (song)
"Sex Over the Phone" is a song recorded by American disco group the Village People. It reached number 59 on the UK Singles Chart.
The BBC banned the song because of its content - credit card dirty phone calls.Sister Mary (film)
Sister Mary is a 2011 American comedy musical film directed and written by Scott Grenke and starring Ant, James Vallo, Bruce Vilanch, Judy Tenuta, Sean Paul Lockhart and Shawn Quinlan.The Bette Midler Show
The Bette Midler Show is an HBO video special of one of Bette Midler's tours entitled "The Depression Tour," shot at the Cleveland Music Hall during February 1976 and also issued on Midler's album Live at Last.
The show features many of Bette's popular songs, such as "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", "Friends", "In The Mood", "Hello In There", and "Lullaby of Broadway" As well as dazzling the audience with her spontaneous wit with her 'Wonderful Sophie Tucker Jokes' and her special 'The Vicki Eydie Show'.
The original HBO broadcast ran 134 minutes, including material from both of her Cleveland performances and a 5-minute intermission. When it was released on VHS, Betamax and CED Videodisc in 1984 by Embassy Home Video, it was severely shortened to 84-minutes. Performances of "Birds," "Shiver Me Timbers," the entire "Story of Nanette," a Harlettes-only musical number and countless jokes were removed.
The special has never officially been issued on DVD, but bootlegs are rampant and clips from both versions have surfaced on YouTube.The Brady Bunch Hour
The Brady Bunch Hour is an American variety show featuring skits and songs produced by Sid & Marty Krofft Productions in association with Paramount Television that aired on ABC from November 28, 1976 to May 25, 1977.
The series starred the original cast members of The Brady Bunch, with the exception of Eve Plumb, who was replaced by Geri Reischl (a.k.a. "Fake Jan"). The show began as a 60-minute special titled The Brady Bunch Variety Hour on November 28, 1976. The special garnered high ratings and led to eight additional 60-minute episodes which were produced and aired sporadically under the shortened title The Brady Bunch Hour from January 23 to May 25, 1977.
The show's events are not included or mentioned in the later Brady Bunch revival series and TV reunion movies.The Coon
"The Coon" is the second episode of the thirteenth season of the American animated television series South Park. The 183rd episode of the series, it originally aired on Comedy Central in the United States on March 18, 2009. In the episode, Cartman poses as a superhero vigilante named "The Coon", who grows increasingly jealous of the popularity and success of a rival superhero named "Mysterion".
The episode was written and directed by series co-founder Trey Parker, and was rated TV-MA L in the United States. It was originally conceived as an episode about the economic recession, but those elements were later adapted into the future episode, "Margaritaville". "The Coon" generated a great deal of speculation about the true identity of Mysterion. Parker and Stone originally said there was no specific answer to the question. However, his identity is finally revealed in the fourteenth season episode "Mysterion Rises".
The episode parodied several dark-toned comic book films that had been recently released at the time, including The Spirit, Watchmen and The Dark Knight. It received generally positive reviews and, according to Nielsen Media Research, was seen by 3.27 million households the week it aired. Comedian Bruce Vilanch, who is mocked in the episode, sent a thank you card to Parker and Stone after the episode aired. "The Coon" was released on DVD and Blu-ray along with the rest of the thirteenth season on March 16, 2010. "The Coon" was also released on DVD in The Little Box of Butters on September 28, 2010. "The Coon" was re-released once more on DVD and Blu-ray as a "bonus episode" with the complete fourteenth season.The Fabulous Allan Carr
The Fabulous Allan Carr is a 2017 American documentary film from filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz. The film details the story of the flamboyant Hollywood producer Allan Carr, famous for producing Grease, Can't Stop the Music, the musical adaptation of La Cage Aux Folles, and the notorious 1989 Academy Awards. The film made its debut at the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF).Featuring interviews and archival footage with friends and confidantes of the flamboyant producer, early reviews marked The Fabulous Allan Carr as a reverent portrait of one of Hollywood's elite, highlighting the fact that Carr "changed the face of pop and gay culture."
The film features interviews with Patricia Birch, Maxwell Caulfield, Steve Guttenberg, Randy Jones, Randal Kleiser, Sherry Lansing, Lorna Luft, Michael Musto, Robert Osborne, Brett Ratner, Connie Stevens, Alana Stewart, Marlo Thomas, Bruce Vilanch and more.The Ice Pirates
The Ice Pirates is a 1984 comic science fiction film directed by Stewart Raffill, who co-wrote the screenplay with Krull writer Stanford Sherman. The film stars Robert Urich, Mary Crosby and Michael D. Roberts; other notable featured actors are Anjelica Huston, Ron Perlman, Bruce Vilanch, John Carradine, and former football player John Matuszak.Tickled Pink
Tickled Pink (full title Inside TV Land: Tickled Pink) was an hour-long television special which aired multiple times during July, 2006, chronicled television shows that homosexuals have identified with over the years. The show featured such entertainers as Richard Andreoli, Kelsey Grammer, Sandra Bernhard, Diahann Carroll, Susan Saint James, Bruce Vilanch, Marc Cherry, Lynda Carter, Bob Mackie, Jean Smart, Jason Stuart, Frank DeCaro, Barbara Eden, Mike Gray, Carson Kressley, Rue McClanahan, Judy Gold, Thom Filicia, and Mario Cantone. Tickled Pink was produced for TV Land by Linda Ellerbee’s Lucky Duck Productions.Where Is My Man
"Where Is My Man" is a song from 1983 by the American singer and actress Eartha Kitt, which appeared on her 1984 album I Love Men.
The song was co-written by comedy writer Bruce Vilanch along with musicians and producers Fred Zarr and Jacques Morali.