Born on November 23, 1948 in New York, actor and comedy writer Bruce Vilanch grew up with his adoptive Jewish parents who instilled in him a passion for threatre. He started out as a child model for Lane Bryant, later pursuing acting in Ohio State University. He was a theatre and journalism major, graduating in 1970.
One of Vilanch's first jobs was as an entertainment features writer for The Chicago Tribune. He later wrote for The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, and when that was canceled he was hired to write jokes for actors from Lily Tomlin to Robin Williams. He then took a shot at acting with a role in 1975's Mahogany. Other appearances of his included those in Law & Order and The Ice Pirates, in addition to participating in Celebrity Fit Club. He soon rose to fame for being head writer of Hollywood Squares, in addition to numerous award shows and variety shows. He later worked on stage, performing in the Broadway musical Hairspray and even coming up with his own off-Broadway comedy act at Westbeth Theater. As an acclaimed funnyman, he was the one responsible for the jokes for Academy Awards hosts. He has won several awards himself: four Emmys for Outstanding Variety Show and others for his charity work.
- Having met Bette Midler early on in his career, the two became friends. He even co-wrote her Divine Madness act in 1980.
- He has done extensive work supporting AIDS charities and GLBTQ rights.
2010: Fort Worth Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival - Career Achievement Award
2007: Grabby Awards - Wall of Fame
1997: GLAAD Media Awards - Stephen F. Kolzak Award
1992: Emmy Awards - Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Variety or Music Program for: The 64th Annual Academy Awards
1991: Emmy Awards - Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program for: The 63rd Annual Academy Awards
2011: Going Down in LA-LA Land - Missy
2011: Sister Mary - Farmer Jake
2009: Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!! - Max
2009: Spring Breakdown - Celebrity Judge
2008: Rick & Steve the Happiest Gay Couple in All the World (TV series) - Bruce Bandersnatch
2008: Tru Loved - Uncle Daniel
2007: Orlando's Bed and Breakfast (TV movie) - Hymie
2006: Celebrity Fit Club (TV series) - Himself
2001: The Proud Family (TV series) - Tristan the Magician
2001: Circuit - Theater Stage Manager
1992: Love Can Be Murder (TV movie) - Bernie
1992: Rachel Gunn, R.N. (TV series) - Patient
1991: Fourth Story (TV movie) - Flower salesman
1989: It Nearly Wasn't Christmas (TV movie) - Philpot
1988: The Drifter - Cook
1988: The Cheech Show (TV movie) - Louella Fella
1986: The Morning After - Bartender
1984: Santa Barbara (TV series) - Hippie priest
1984: The Ice Pirates - Wendon
1983: Breathless - Man with Purse
1981: Bosom Buddies (TV series) - Customer #2
1975: Mahogany - Dress Manufacturer