Before My Professional Acting Career Began, For 2 Months, I Was A Roller-Skating Waitress
…(That is; before I got fired because I got impatient while waiting on the demanding mother of the owner.)
On my very first day there, one of the busboys attached himself to me, which was great. He was a big help (especially when I tripped, and flipped one of their enormous salads)…and he was funny, and a lot of fun. Near the end of the day, when it got quiet, he asked me if I was an actress.
When I answered yes, he told me I should meet his brother and roommate: Bruce, who also was in New York to act. Nicknamed Bruno, he worked at a health club, and was picking his little brother up from work, that day.
Bruno came in, he was taller than his brother…
…with the same gamey walk and charm that he glows with still, today. I still remember that he was wearing a white sleeveless undershirt, and pleated trousers, low on the hips.
We were, all three, fast friends. The Willis brothers had a whole crew of people that they were friends with, and they brought me into their whole social nucleus, instantly. Some of my fondest memories, from those days, were the parties they would have on the roof of their building, in the Hell’s Kitchen part of Manhattan.
Within a year, both Bruno and I were working at a restaurant in Chelsea.
The restaurant’s owners were the the same guys who also owned an Upper West Side actor/ballet dancer bar. Bruno hung out there, and so did I. One night there, Bruno met someone exceptionally pretty, and she became his girlfriend.
He and she were deeply in love. They were a strong match, a real couple. He wanted her to feel comfortable with our social group, he asked me to befriend her. It wasn’t hard, she lived just a few blocks from me, we hung out a lot, especially when Bruno was working. He was bartending at both of the restaurants, after awhile; so he was busy a lot of the time. At night. I enjoyed having a galpal nearby to hang with, whose schedule was wide open to do stuff with.
Although she and I lived close, our apartments couldn’t be more different. She lived in a brand new, luxury highrise. My apartment, was a studio, a walkup. She didn’t work, she didn’t have to. Her father, apparently, was very successful in real estate. She seemed to be the apple of her Daddy’s eye, and he set her up very nicely. (In the Big Apple–ba-da-bing.) Her apartment was very different than Bruno and his brother’s; they had a very active crackhouse, on their same block.
In my memory, it was about 9 months into their relationship, when Bruno told me that he was going to ask her to marry him. He was very serious, and he gave her a ring, the kind to suffice until he could afford a better one. And because he wanted to do it right, he called her father’s office in Manhattan, and made an appointment to see him.
He was going to see her father to “ask for her hand in marriage”.
I didn’t hear much about it after, and didn’t ask. What happened in that meeting, I only found out, some years later.
If you can imagine that Bruce Willis, at the time, had only a few credits. Shows that were in church basement type credits. Example: “Railroad Bill”. I know he had a small part in a Frank Sinatra movie, and I remember going to see him on the set, but I if he had that, that was the most. And probably not. He was an actor, like so many are, with very little income. And he hadn’t yet made any significant inroads to a career.
About half-a-year later, their relationship lost steam, and slowly, they parted.
Both he and I were true NY boho “starving actors”.
Once, he and his brother accompanied me to a party held at the Plaza Hotel, in the middle of winter. Bruno wore his vintage ’40s overcoat, nice pants on, a button-down shirt, and flip flops on his feet. I vaguely remember that it was below freezing. (The only shoes he had were sneakers, and they weren’t appropriate. He made those flip flops work, he did have serious style, and a great body. Everything looked good on him. He got away with those sleeveless undershirts, in winter, also. It all looked great on him. It wasn’t like he was drop dead handsome. He was good-looking, yes, but he had such a strength of personality, and confidence.)
Some years later, I was walking my dog in Riverside Drive Park
I was on hiatus from the Burt Reynolds series, “BL Stryker”. I saw a woman with a stroller. It was Bruno’s ex-girlfriend. She had married someone else, and had children. We walked a bit, and talked.
It was then that she told me what happened at the meeting in her father’s office. She said that Bruce had made his intent apparent, and her father scoffed. As she told it, her father laughed. Her father rejected Bruno’s plea, but just before doing so, he asked him why he should consider such an unfeasible idea.
Her father said:
What can you offer my daughter? You are a bartender!
But, sir, you don’t understand. I am going to be a movie star someday.
NOT making this up.
Her memory, and then my memory…maybe it’s not exact. But Bruno did state the part about the movie star, that’s sure. As a defense.
And her father didn’t believe him. (Of course, right?) He derided him.
She said that her father laughed Bruce out of his office.
Please spread the positivity to other actors. Thank you for doing your share!
Also, please note. I have lots of stories like this. I will soon be sharing them with subscribers, only. Please do.