Richest CelebritiesRichest Comedians
Net Worth:
$6 Million
Nov 23, 1948 (75 years old)
New York City
Actor, Screenwriter, Songwriter, Writer
United States of America
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What is Bruce Vilanch's Net Worth?

Bruce Vilanch is an American actor, songwriter and comedy writer who has a net worth of $6 million. Bruce Vilanch is best known to mainstream audiences for his four-year stint as a panelist on the 1998 revival of the television game show "Hollywood Squares." He is also well-known for his long tenure writing for the annual Academy Awards from 1989 to 2014. Among his acting work, Vilanch created and performed in his own one-man stage play, "Bruce Vilanch: Almost Famous," and starred as Edna Turnblad in the first national stage tour of the musical "Hairspray."

Early Life and Education

Bruce Vilanch was born on November 23, 1948 in New York City, and was brought up in Paterson, New Jersey by his adoptive parents Henne and Jonas. It was his mother who helped push him toward a career in show business, helping to get him signed with Lane Bryant's Charming Chub division as a chubby child model. In Paterson, Vilanch was educated at Eastside High School. He went on to attend the Ohio State University, where he studied theater and journalism and wrote reviews of shows.

Writing Career

Vilanch began his professional writing career penning entertainment features for the Chicago Tribune. Through that gig, he met numerous celebrities, including then-fledgling singer Bette Midler. In 1974, Vilanch wrote comedy material for Midler's Broadway show "Clams on the Half Shell"; he would go on to write material for many of her later shows. After moving to Los Angeles, Vilanch served as a co-writer for "The Donny & Marie Show," the "Star Wars Holiday Special," and "The Brady Bunch Hour." He also wrote comedy material for an array of comics, including Billy Crystal, Roseanne Barr, Paul Reiser, Lily Tomlin, and Rosie O'Donnell. In 1978, Vilanch co-wrote the book for the Broadway musical "Platinum." Two years later, he began writing both humorous and serious columns for the LGBTQ magazine the Advocate.

Vilanch had one of his longest-running gigs as a writer for the annual Academy Awards, which he wrote for from 1989 to 2014. He served as the show's head writer from 2000 to 2014. In his role, Vilanch became known for coming up with new jokes on the spot based on unexpected events that had occurred during the telecast, such as Jack Palance's one-armed push-ups at the 1992 ceremony. He won six Emmy Awards in total for his contributions to the Oscars. Vilanch also contributed material to various Emmy, Tony, and Grammy telecasts. Elsewhere, as a songwriter, he co-wrote "Where is My Man" and "Sex Over the Phone" with Fred Zarr and Jacques Morali. In 2010, Vilanch wrote for his longtime friend Florence Henderson's stage show "An Evening with Friends."

Acting Career

Vilanch made his professional acting debut in the 1975 romantic drama film "Mahogany," starring Diana Ross. He played a dress manufacturer in the film. Later, in the 1980s, Vilanch played Wendon in the science-fiction comedy "The Ice Pirates." He also appeared in an episode of the television sitcom "Bosom Buddies" and in a scene of Jim McBride's film "Breathless." In the 1990s, Vilanch showed up on "Law & Order."

Moving to the stage in the early 21st century, Vilanch created and performed in his own one-man show, "Bruce Vilanch: Almost Famous." It was held off-Broadway at the Westbeth Theatre Center in 2000. Later, in 2005, Vilanch starred on Broadway as Edna Turnblad in the musical "Hairspray," a role he had played for the previous two years in the show's first national stage tour.

Bruce Vilanch

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Other Media Appearances

Vilanch became best-known to mainstream audiences as a regular panelist on the 1998 revival of the television game show "Hollywood Squares," hosted by Tom Bergeron. He appeared alongside other regular panelists Gilbert Gottfried, Caroline Rhea, and Martin Mull. Vilanch also served as head writer on the series through 2002. He went on to participate in the third season of the reality series "Celebrity Fit Club" in 2006. Two years after that, Vilanch appeared as himself in the Adam Sandler action comedy film "You Don't Mess with the Zohan." In 2011, he served as a guest judge in the third season of the reality competition series "RuPaul's Drag Race"; he would go on to appear as a coach in the fifth season and as a guest judge again in season six.

Among his other appearances, Vilanch played himself in the 2011 gay body-switching romcom "Walk a Mile in My Pradas" and in a 2015 episode of the Disney animated series "Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero." In 2012, he portrayed Arnold Schwarzenegger in an episode of the sketch comedy series "The Eric Andre Show." Vilanch has also appeared in some documentary films, including 1999's "Get Bruce!," of which he was the subject, and 2007's "Laughing Matters," which featured him alongside several other gay comics. Additionally, he appeared as a commentator in the 2010 documentary "The Adonis Factor," about gay male body image.

Charity Work

Vilanch is significantly involved in charity work, particularly related to LGBTQ issues. He previously served as the MC of the annual fundraiser Quest for the Crown, organized by Aid for AIDS in Los Angeles. Vilanch also emceed an event for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS in 2009 and 2010. In 2017, he hosted a celebrity roast of Michael Musto to raise money for the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in New York City.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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