"I had my name before the other one," joked Yakima, Wash, orthodontist Bruce Willis, DDS. At 56, he is 4 years older than Bruce Willis, the actor.
According to an article in the Yakima Herald Republic Online, Willis, actually Howard Bruce Willis Jr, started going by his middle name as a child growing up in Auburn, Wash, because he shared the name with his father. Then in the late 1980s, when the actor started to emerge as a public figure through his costarring role on the ABC-TV series Moonlighting, the local Willis started getting comments about his name. And they haven’t slowed much since.
Now when people hear his name upon a face-to-face introduction, Willis gets a raised eyebrow, a second look, or even a flippant comment like, "I’ve seen your movies." Although he bears no resemblance to the actor, it doesn’t get old for Willis, who sees his shared name as a conversation starter.
"After his name came out, it gave me more of an opportunity for more interesting dialogue with people coming into my office. People seem to get a kick out of it, not quite sure why," Willis said.
Willis actually met and had a brief conversation with his famed counterpart while visiting Idaho. The actor lives in Hailey, Idaho, where he owns a few businesses. The orthodontist spotted the actor walking down the street.
Though he has seen many of the movies in which Willis appears, he didn’t want to make a scene. So Yakima’s Willis made a comment about a set of golf clubs and a lone dog in a storefront. The actor walked past and responded with a brief comment, but that was the extent of their conversation.
"I actually met him but am kicking myself because I didn’t introduce myself with my name," Willis said. "I didn’t think he would believe me."