Bruce Willis is an American actor, musician and producer, and one of the most popular action stars to grace the silver screen, has announced his retirement from acting. This bonafide movie star, best known for portraying wisecracking heroes like John McClane in the “Die Hard” film franchise, disclosed that he has aphasia and can no longer continue his epic career.
Willis first caught the public eye in 1985 while starring in the TV series “Moonlighting.”
In 1988, he earned $5 million to star in “Die Hard.” His salary for future films in the franchise would yield more than $70-80 million in today’s dollars and brought in more than $1.1 billion globally.
His films have grossed $2.5 billion USD. Willis is one of the highest-paid actors with a net worth of $250 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Films, Flops and More
Between 1985 and 1990, he portrayed David Addison, Jr. in “Moonlighting.”
Willis’ successes didn’t stop there. He earned $14 million for “The Last Boy Scout” in 1991, $800,000 for “Pulp Fiction” in 1994, $15 million for “Die Hard: With a Vengeance” in 1995, $16.5 million for “Last Man Standing” in 1996 and $14.8 million for “Armageddon” in 1998. His salary for “The Sixth Sense,” the M. Night Shyamalan 1999 hit, totaled more than $100 million because of a lucrative backend deal.
In 2000, the star earned a total of $54.5 million, including $20 million each for “The Kid” and “Unbreakable.” He netted $70 million in 2001 and $46 million in 2002, which included a $22.5 million haul for “Hart’s War.” “Live Free or Die Hard” netted Willis $25 million in 2007, and in 2008 he pulled in a combined $41 million for his acting endeavors.
He also lent his voice to Mikey in 1990’s “Look Who’s Talking” and one of its sequels, for which he earned $10 million per film.
After the success of “The Whole Nine Yards,” Willis appeared on “Friends” after losing a bet to co-star Matthew Perry, doing the guest spot for free.
Willis was the first known actor to portray a character in a video game, appearing in “Apocalypse” in 1998.
He is also a musician who has put out three albums including “The Return of Bruno.”
Early Life and Career
Walter Bruce Willis was the eldest child born to Marlene and David Willis on a military base in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany on March 19, 1955. After his father left the army, the family relocated to New Jersey. He had a stuttering problem when he was a child and discovered that acting helped him stutter less. He dabbled in many jobs including bartender, security guard and private investigator and even attended Montclair State University.
Soon after appearing in a college production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” he left school and moved to New York City to pursue his acting vocation.
Willis didn’t have much luck in the New York acting scene, so he moved to Los Angeles where he started getting bit parts on television.
In the early years of his career, he was a pitchman for Seagrams where he was paid $7 million dollars for his work on a two-year campaign. He has also appeared in ad campaigns for Sobieski Vodka.
He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006.
Bruce Willis’ Awards
Bruce Willis won a Golden Globe in 1987 for his breakout television role opposite Cybill Shepherd in the series, “Moonlighting.” He was nominated for three other Golden Globes for the series in 1986, 1988 and 1990. The role also earned him a Primetime Emmy nomination in 1986 and a win in 1987.
In 2000, Willis won another Primetime Emmy for his recurring role on the hit series, “Friends.” In total, Bruce Willis has been nominated for 36 awards and won 20.
Bruce Willis and Belvedere: Business Venture Gone Wrong
In 2009, Bruce Willis signed a four-year deal with Belvedere, a French liquor company that produces a namesake high-end vodka, as well as William Peel whiskey and Marie Brizard liqueurs. In exchange for the right to use his face in branding campaigns, Willis was compensated in shares and cash equating to a 2.6 percent ownership stake.
When the company encountered financial trouble in 2013, creditors won a legal bid to seize 87% of the company by converting its debt into shares. This decision left just 13% to be divvied up among all the shareholders, including Willis.
Although he was promised a payment of $26.1 million if the company’s value dropped below a certain threshold, Belvedere claimed it could not afford to pay Willis and instead offered him a third of that amount. It is unclear whether or not the star accepted the settlement offer.
His Wives & Daughters
Willis wed Demi Moore in 1987. They share three daughters: Rumer, Scout and Tallulah Belle. When they divorced in 2000, she received a $90 million settlement. They are regarded to have maintained an amicable relationship, so much so that they attended the marriages of their former spouses to other people.
In 2009, he married Emma Hemming. They have two daughters, Maybel and Evelyn.
Did Bruce Willis Really Buy a Town?
Willis is a connoisseur of properties around the world. In fact, he once tried to buy a whole town.
Some of the highlights include a $7 million penthouse that he purchased with Demi Moore in 1990. While she received the home in the divorce settlement, the property increased in value so much that it sold for $45 million in 2017.
On the other side of the country, he sold a Beverly Hills estate for $16.5 million in 2014.
Over in New York, he sold another penthouse for $18 million in 2018.
Moving to the center of the country, he sold his 20-acre lakefront ranch in Idaho, which he fully rebuilt in 2003, for $5.5 million, which broke a town record at the time, after being on the market for seven years. That wasn’t the only piece of property he owned in the area. While still married to Moore, the couple purchased additional lots next to their home in Hailey, along with a run-down movie theatre, a pizzeria and a bar. They also purchased a large Victorian home for Moore to display her dolls in. After their 1998 split, the second home was sold and businesses shuttered.
In 2019 he sold a 7.4-acre estate in Turks and Caicos for $27 million. While it sold for 20% under-asking, it is the second most expensive home sale in the country’s history. That same year, he sold his 22-acre estate in Bedford mansion for $4.4 million, also at a loss.
Willis bought a mansion in Brentwood, Calif. for almost $10 million in 2019.
Bruce Willis: Acting to the End
Bruce Willis has eight films that will be coming out in the next year or so including, “Paradise City,” “White Elephant,” “Wire Room,” “Corrective Measures,” “Die Like Lovers,” “The Wrong Place,” “Fortress: Sniper’s Eye,” “A Day to Die” and “Gasoline Alley.”
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About the Author
Michelle Tompkins is an award-winning media, PR and crisis communications professional with more than 15 years of experience covering traditional and new media topics. She is currently a communications strategist and writer, as well as the author of College Prowler: Guidebook for Columbia University — her alma mater where she earned a B.A. in film studies. Michelle’s primary topics of interest are arts & entertainment (TV, humor, theater and classic films are favorites), food and lifestyle. She also covers general news, business, beauty, gift guides and medical/health-related stories. Michelle also has a passion for conducting interviews with all sorts of interesting people. When not working or watching too much TV, she is a skilled home cook specializing in Puerto Rican and Southern cuisine, loves in-home entertaining and trivia/games nights, sipping Jack Daniels on the rocks and cheering for the San Francisco Giants.