When we think of Bruno Tonioli, the flamboyant Italian judge on Dancing With the Stars, we immediately think: big mouth, occasionally appropriate, always entertaining. But nobody is on 24/7, so we figured we would try to find out a little bit more about the gesticulating judge. Here are 10 things you might not have known about Bruno:
10. Bruno was made into a muppet on a Sesame Street spoof called “Dancing with Triangles.”
9. He’s a philanthropist and an exhibitionist. Bruno stripped down with a group of celebrities for a UK campaign called “Give Up Clothes for Good,” which raised money for cancer research.
8. In the original concept for Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” video, Bruno was supposed to play Elton as a younger man, but during shooting, all the film of this concept fell into the water; we all know what happened next.
7. He’s surprisingly down to earth. After losing his mom to a heart attack and his father to Alzheimer’s within seven years, Bruno has a perspective on life that keeps him from becoming too demanding or whiny about little problems.
6. There is no rivalry between Bruno and Simon Cowell despite having competing TV shows throughout the years. “There is no rivalry between Simon and me: he loves Strictly and I love The X Factor. We're rivals on television schedules only and friends in real life. We're very open about the fact that we enjoy watching each other's shows.”
5. As a result of traveling for work throughout the years, Bruno is fluent in Italian, English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French. We’re sure he is animated in every language.
4. He comes from a hard-working, blue-collar family. His dad, Werther, was a bus driver during the day and car mechanic at night; his mom, Fulvia, stitched car seat covers for a living and was a seamstress in the evenings. Still, she walked home every day to cook lunch and prepared dinner at night. His family lived with his father’s parents until he was 12.
3. His mouth has actually saved him from bad situations. Bruno admits he was mocked for being the only gay kid in his Italian village, and he knew at age 10 that something was different. While dancing with a group of girls at a club as a kid, he was chased out with broken bottles and pinned against a wall by bullying boys for being gay. He says he “chatted [his way] out of it with wit and imagination.”
2. Bob Fosse changed Bruno’s life. Bruno saw Cabaret eight times in a row when it came out in 1972, and it helped him discover what he wanted to do. His parents, on the other hand, wanted Bruno to work in a bank so he went to Rome to take ballet classes and moved to Paris at 18 to join a dance troupe. Bruno says, “We didn't have a television until 1962, but my father loved Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, and I used to go to the cinema to watch Hollywood musicals. In the evening, I would go to the ballroom and watch my parents dance the cha-cha-cha.”
1. Bruno and Len Goodman are silly together when the camera isn’t watching. Bruno says, “If only you could hear what Len and I say to each other when our mikes are turned off and someone comes on in a ridiculous outfit or dances really badly — it's definitely not family entertainment then. We even kick each other under the table if we find something amusing - we're like a pair of naughty schoolboys.”
Sources: Mirror, Daily Mail, AfterElton, Huffington Post, Muppet Wiki