Once Upon A Time Bruce Willis Was Rumored To Be The Best Bartender In NYC

The outpouring of love that was unleashed across the internet in response to the news in 2022 that the veteran movie star Bruce Willis was retiring from acting to focus on his health shows how much he is appreciated by the movie-watching public. Whether in the hit '80s sitcom "Moonlighting," Quentin Tarantino's classic "Pulp Fiction," the Christmas action movie of choice "Die Hard" and its four sequels, or any of the 100+ other acting credits he accrued throughout his career, Willis has proven to be one of the most compelling and likable leading actors in living memory.

As interviews with the star and his friends show, Willis has many strings to his bow. He is an accomplished harmonica player, who alongside his acting career has released three albums. But, arguably, his second best skill was that of bartender, a job he held for many years after he first arrived in New York to try and make it as an actor. Willis' skills behind the bar extended to him entertaining his patrons, an aspect of his bartending that many — including some famous faces — would remember decades later.

Bruno the bartender

It's no secret that even the most gifted actors often have to work second jobs to support themselves as they take their first steps in the entertainment industry and seek out those breakthrough roles that might get their careers to the next level. And Bruce Willis was no different. In the 1970s and 1980s, Willis, who had studied drama at Montclair State University, was trying out for TV and movies. He gained several notable parts during this period, though it could be argued that his biggest role was behind a bar, where, serving actors and fishing for roles, he reportedly went by the name Bruno, according to former customer Glenn Kenny (per Decider).

In some ways, bartending offered Willis the stage and the audience he craved, and he was known for his wisecracking antics and extrovertedness. According to John Parker's "Bruce Willis: The Unauthorized Biography," Willis used to arrive to work on rollerskates and entertain the stars who used to appear at his bar down the years, including Cher and Robert Duvall. Willis's charm was legendary, and as well as entertaining his patrons he also became known for his powers of seduction. In an interview with Conan O'Brien in 2005, Willis admitted that a famous rumor that he once spent nine months sharing a bed with two women at once was indeed true (via YouTube).

Reuniting with a famous patron

Bruce Willis served many of the big names of the New York acting scene during his years as a bartender, with many people who are famous today recalling seeing the charismatic future star opening their beers and mixing their cocktails. One of these was fellow megastar John Goodman, who became a household name thanks to his role as Dan in "Roseanne" before enjoying a stellar film career that includes numerous appearances in critically acclaimed Coen Brothers movies.

In an interview with The New York Post, Goodman recalls that he first met Willis in the late 1970s, when they were both budding actors. "Bruce is so goddamn funny," says Goodman, who became friends with Willis at the hip bar Chelsea Central. "Bruce was the best bartender in New York ... He kept an entire joint entertained all night. He just kept the show going. He was amazing." However, it would take nearly four decades for the two actors to star opposite each other, with Willis and Goodman both taking leading roles in the movie "Once Upon a Time in Venice."