Bruce Willis first became a household name on the 1980s television series “Moonlighting,” on which he played David Addison, a private eye who becomes romantically entangled with his boss, played by Cybill Shepherd.
“There’s never been a TV leading man quite like his David Addison, a loosey-goosey, finger-poppin’, doo-woppin’ wise guy with the fastest-mouth in prime time,” a Newsweek cover story once said of his performance.
Willis, a former bartender, was cast in the role after an exhaustive search for a leading man. He impressed the show’s executive producer, Glenn Caron, who then had to convince skeptical network executives that Willis was the right man for the job despite his unconventional looks.
Willis was born in Germany, the oldest of four children born to David and Marlene Willis. His father was a U.S. Army man stationed in Germany at the time of his son’s birth. Two years later, the family moved to New Jersey, where his father worked as a welder and mechanic at a local shipyard.
After completing high school, Willis enrolled in Montclair State College, where he studied with Jerry Rockwood, who taught an updated version of Stanislavsky’s legendary acting method. While in college, he played Brick in the school’s production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
After school, his first big break came when he played an understudy for the role of Eddie in Sam Shepherd’s “Fool for Love.” After a brief stint in theater, he secured the “Moonlighting” part, which led to film opportunities.
His star-making role as an action hero came in “Die Hard,” where he played a cop who stops a group of terrorists. After the success of that film, he tried his hand as a singer, but only released one rock album. He has also appeared in “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” in 1989 and lent his voice to two of the “Look Who’s Talking” films with Kirstie Alley and John Travolta.
In the last two decades, he has starred in a variety of films, including Quentin Tarantino’s hit “Pulp Fiction” and Terry Gilliam’s “12 Monkeys.”
He was married to actress Demi Moore for 13 years until they divorced in 2000. The couple had three daughters together, and Willis is now friends with Moore’s new husband, Ashton Kutcher. In 2009, Willis married British model and actress Emma Heming.