Let me begin by saying that anybody who spends his life saddled with the name "Bruno" (not so fast, Bruce Willis - that's just a phase you went through) has a tough row to hoe from the start. You're probably going to have to be a character actor, since that's what Brunos do. You're also going to find yourself playing a schlub more often than not, since that is the fate of Brunos on our planet.
You might not know Bruno Kirby's name, but you certainly know his face. Actually, for the purposes of today's news, many people may have been made familiar with Bruno's "droopy" face. With more than sixty film and TV credits to his name, it's a wonder that he wasn't more easily identified. He was "that guy" in everything from the pilot for MASH (as Private Lorenzo Boone) to Billy Crystal's buddy Jess in "When Harry Met Sally." He even played a young Pete Clemenza in "Godfather: Part II." That's some range.
I've got some favorite Bruno Kirby parts. Lieutenant Steve Hauk in "Good Morning Vietnam" showcased his ability to make the painfully un-funny hysterical - to wit:
Lieutenant Steven Hauk: I understand you're pretty funny as a dee-jay and, well, comedy is kind of a hobby of mine. Well, actually, it's a little more than just a hobby, Reader's Digest is considering publishing two of my jokes.
Adrian Cronauer: Really.
Lieutenant Steven Hauk: Yeah. And perhaps some night we could maybe get together and swap humorous stories, for fun.
Adrian Cronauer: Oh, why not? Maybe play a couple of Tennessee Ernie Ford records, that'd be a hoot.
Lieutenant Steven Hauk: That's a joke, right?
Adrian Cronauer: Maybe.
Lieutenant Steven Hauk: I get it.
Okay, it doesn't read funny - but you have to admire a guy who has the confidence to stand and stare blankly at Robin Williams as he does his best manic-with-a-heart-of-gold schtick. And then there's "Modern Romance." Bruno plays Jay, Robert Cole's (Albert Brooks) friend and co-worker, who offers the distraught editor Quaaludes to get him through the first of several hours after he breaks up with his girl friend.
Robert Cole: [on the phone with Jay] Jay, listen -- I didn't tell you this before, and I think I should tell you now. I love you. I mean, in the right way. I think you're an amazing guy, and I -- I think I just love you.
Jay: The ludes kicked in, right?
It's just a moment in what is essentially a very quiet movie, but it hits just the right note. Thanks, Bruno - I'll be laughing when I watch it again...and again...