Before John McClane, there was Bruno. This was the nickname Bruce Willis gave himself during a period of time when the New Jersey native was crushing it on television’s Moonlighting, and on the verge of breaking big as one of the most successful movie stars in Hollywood history. But Willis fancied himself as a singer, too, and recorded a hit R&B album titled The Return of Bruno that dropped in January 1987, produced a few MTV videos, and climbed the charts in the U.S. and UK. It’s from that classic time period that this new tribute video from Willis’ wife, Emma Heming Willis, captures, with a sweet caption explaining how Willis’ fearlessness is the reason why she fell so hard for him.
As you likely know, Bruce Willis recently retired from professional acting because he is suffering from aphasia, a language disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate. Emma Heming Willis has been keeping fans updated on Bruce’s progress with candid looks at her day-to-day process. This new video, posted to her Instagram, celebrates the better days, when Willis was taking the stage with The Temptations (!!) to sing lead on “Under the Boardwalk.” What a stone-cold legend!
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As Emma Willis points out in her message, it takes a special sort of someone to get up on stage and sing live. But to do it WITH The Temptations, and sing a song as iconic as The Drifters’ 1964 smash “Under the Boardwalk” – and do well on it – takes a different kind of talent. Which Bruce Willis obviously had, and was preparing to unleash it on the world through his television and movie projects.
This 1987 clip would have happened months before Bruce Willis’ life changed forever thanks to the phenomenal response to Die Hard, which arrived in theaters on July 22, 1988 (despite being an obvious Christmas movie, a fact that everyone agrees on). Prior to that movie dropping, Willis had a hit TV program in Moonlighting and had generated some buzz playing a guy on a terrible Blind Date in a funny Blake Edwards film. His future was wide open, and as you can tell from the above video, Willis was willing to try anything for the good of entertaining his fans, which is exactly why Emma Heming eventually fell for him. As she writes in her post:
As do we all. I, personally, am thankful for the Bruce Willis videos that Emma continues to share, as they give us new insights into the amazing life lived by this legend. The well-wishes from his former co-stars such as Matthew Perry of Friends and The Whole Nine Yards or his action icon buddy Sylvester Stallone cement the impact that Willis had on our industry and the global audiences tuning in to his movies. But these fantastic music moments remind us of Willis’ unlimited talent, which we will forever celebrate.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.