Bruce Adler (
November 27 1944– July 25 2008) was an American Broadway actor. After debuting on the Broadway stage in the 1979 revival of " Oklahoma!", he went on to a career that saw him nominated for Tony Awards as Best Featured Actor in a Musical for "Those Were the Days" (1991) and " Crazy for You" (1992). His film work was limited to voice work in animated films, notably providing the singing voice for the narrator of the 1992 Disney film "Aladdin".
His parents, Henrietta Jacobson and Julius Adler, and his two maternal uncles, Irving and Hymie Jacobson were well-established popular stars of the
Yiddish theatre, at the time in its heyday on New York's Lower East Side. Bruce made his stage debut at an early age, appearing with his parents. He continued to appear in Yiddish theatre throughout his teens, also appearing in mainstream American theatre as his parents made a similar "crossover," most notably appearing in productions of Neil Simon's "Come Blow Your Horn".
Bruce served in the United States Army from 1966 through 1968. He continued his career thereafter, firmly straddling the two worlds of Yiddish and American Theatre. After much success in regional theatre, Bruce made his Broadway debut as Ali Hakim, the Peddler, in the extremely popular 35th Anniversary production of "Oklahoma!" in 1979. He was following in the footsteps of actor Joseph Buloff, who had created the role in 1943, and also had a huge background on the Yiddish stage. His success in "Oklahoma!" led Bruce to a strong foothold in the mainstream as a dependable and much admired character actor. Other Broadway shows included "Oh, Brother!" (1981), "Sunday In The Park With George" (1984), "Broadway" (1987), "Rumors" (1988), "Those Were The Days" (1991) and "Crazy For You" (1992). Bruce stayed with "Crazy For You" for the entirety of its four-year run on Broadway.
Off-Broadway, Bruce appeared in some of the most important and well-received Yiddish speaking and Jewish-themed productions of the last 30 years, including "The Golden Land" (1985), "On Second Avenue" (1987), "The Rise of David Levinsky" (1987) and many others.
A megastar in Florida
Bruce Adler created a second career for himself starting in the mid-90's, with a series of shows which played to huge success in the legitimate theatres of South Florida from the Palm Beaches to Ft. Lauderdale to Miami. Playing to the enormous enthusiasm of tens of thousands of retirees who knew Bruce from his Yiddish theatre heritage, as well as from his Broadway success, he created new shows each year for 8 consecutive winter seasons in Florida. Sometimes the shows were solo evenings, sometimes shared with other great Vaudeville-style entertainers such as comedian Mal Z. Lawrence and legendary singer Claire Barry, sometimes full-scale musical theatre productions. His devoted audience came to see Bruce time and time again, as he carried on the almost lost tradition of the "song-and-dance-man," a moniker that Bruce was proud and honored to wear. His shows invariably paid tribute to the performers who had shaped his own style when he was a young man. He readily and gratefully tipped his hat to Danny Kaye, Sammy Davis, Jr., Red Buttons, Cab Calloway and Jimmy Durante, among others.
In a review of Bruce's one-man show "Song and Dance Man," New York Times critic Richard Shepard wrote, "What is there that this man can't do? He kazotskys, he soft shoes, he fandangos...He makes the oldest jokes fresh and funny!...It is impossible to watch him without being seized by his infectious spirit, his complete enjoyment in what he is doing...he brings performing brilliance to the stage!"
Bruce's first marriage ended in divorce in 2002. He married director/actress Amy London in 2003, becoming a devoted and loving stepfather to her two children, Emily and A.J. In February of 2007, he and Amy became the proud parents of Jacob Hayden Adler, Bruce's first child.
Bruce Adler died at age 63 on July 25, 2008, after a long and valiant battle with an insidious form of cancer. He kept performing until very near the end of his life, never wanting to deprive his audience of his high-energy brand of entertainment. His last public appearance was at Carnegie Hall in May 2008. He recreated several numbers that evening in a gala celebration for the New York Festival of Song. Needless to say, despite his weakened condition, Bruce brought down the house - just as always.
* [http://www.playbill.com/news/article/119831.html Playbill.com obituary]
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