Happy Birthday Bruce Willis: Relive the Hollywood Superstar’s Best Moments

by Suzanne Halliburton

Bruce Willis, you make 66 look good. And we’re hoping that somewhere, at the end of this day, at the end of your birthday celebration, John McClane will say “You throw quite a party.”

John McClane is the lead character in Die Hard movies. Bruce Willis played him five times. So the wise-cracking police detective is Willis and vice versa.

But since it’s Willis’ birthday, let’s put his career highlights in some chronological order.

Remember David Addison? He churned out the quips as a detective in Moonlighting. Landing the role of David Addision was Willis’ significant career break. The plot of Moonlighting revolved around Willis’ character and Cybill Shepherd as Maddie, a former fashion model. Her accountant stole all her money, so all she had left was ownership in a detective agency, which had been a tax write off. So Maddie and David team up to solve crimes. And they flirt with each other. A lot.

The show aired from 1985-89. And the chemistry between Bruce Willis and Shepherd jumped off the screen. They had a love-hate relationship on the show. And it was like that in real life, too. The show was popular with viewers the first three seasons, then you could see a trend line as ratings dropped. It was when Maddie and David finally got together. With no more romantic tension, the viewership went down. Shepherd took leave to have twins and Willis began filming the first Die Hard movie.

But the series did give Bruce Willis his first major award — an Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series. And, he won a best actor Golden Globe for comedy. Moonlighting was one of the first series in TV’s dramedy genre.

Remember Bruce Willis and His Singing Career?

And, as Bruce Willis filmed Moonlighting, he also dabbled in music. There was a cover of Respect Yourself with the Pointer Sisters in 1987. It peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Check it out:

Yes, There Were Lots of Movies, But Bruce Willis Always Will Be John McClane

Willis’ first lead role came in a sexy Blake Edwards movie with Kim Basinger and John Larroquette. The movie was Blind Date and it premiered in 1987.

Die Hard was released in 1988. And every holiday season, there’s the great debate — is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Willis wasn’t first choice for the role. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone turned down playing McClane. Bad decision on their part. Die Hard grossed $140 million. That was the 10th highest in the world that year and tops for an action movie.

Willis played the role five times from 1988 to 2013. The others were Die Hard 2, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Live Free or Die Hard and A Good Day to Die Hard.

Or as John McClane would say: Yippee-ki-yay, Mxxxxr Fxxxxr.

Willis Marries Demi Moore

Talk about a hot couple. In 1987, Willis married Demi Moore, one of the best known members of young Hollywood’s Brat Pack. The two are the proud parents of three daughters. Although they separated in 1998, Willis and Moore remained friends. In one of the odder stories of the COVID-19 pandemic, Willis and Moore quarantined together with their daughters in Idaho, while Willis’ wife spent the time in Los Angeles with the couple’s two children.

Willis remarried in 2009 to model Emma Heming. Moore attended the wedding. And when Moore married Ashton Kutcher, Willis was a wedding guest.

Here Are Some Other Top Movies for Willis

Bruce Willis was in Pulp Fiction, one of the first ultra hip movies from Quentin Tarantino.

And in 1999, he played child psychologist Malcolm Crowe in the movie Sixth Sense. The film picked up six Academy Awards nominations.

Willis was vital to the movie. After all, Haley Joel Osment, as Cole Sear, tells Willis: “I see dead people.”

And the film had one of the most fantastic surprise endings in movie history. Just in case you haven’t seen or heard about the ending, we’re offering no spoilers.

So Happy Birthday, Bruce Willis! Or, as John McClane would say: Welcome to the party, pal.