Cover photo for Phil Bruns's Obituary
Phil Bruns Profile Photo
1931 Phil 2012

Phil Bruns

May 2, 1931 — February 8, 2012

PHIL BRUNS, one of the premier American character actors of stage, film and television was born on a farm near Pipestone, Minnesota on May 2, 1931. He is the youngest of three children born to German-Irish parents Henry Phillip Bruns and Margie Trigg Bruns. He had a wonderful childhood growing up with two older sisters, Mildred and Dorothy. The great depression and farm life was only the first layer of a rich life to come. First, high school football, then Augustana College in South Dakota – with letters in football, baseball, golf, and track, plus appearing in every major theatrical production at Augustana. This qualified him for a scholarship to Yale Drama graduate school and, even, hard to believe, a Fulbright scholarship for twelve months in England at the University of Bristol and The Old Vic School, where he met lifetime friend Peter O’Toole. Phil’s life as rich as it seemed already, was only the beginning of a career in New York Theater and commercials (cited in Time Magazine as one of the three busiest, outstanding young men in the commercial world in 1968). He went on to do over forty feature films in Los Angeles, New York and many other places around the world, sometimes starring and many times supporting the star. He spent three years with Jackie Gleason on his television show, and played the father character on the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Show for all its seasons. He‘s appeared on hundreds of commercials and was a guest on hundreds of TV Dramas and sit-coms. His many films give him a wealth of stories to tell and he is truly a story teller. He is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Phil married twice, first to star dancer Jill Owens of the Jackie Gleason Show in New York in 1969, and lastly to Laurie Franks, an award winning Broadway Star. A partial listing of his very active theater life appears on the last few pages of “The Character Actor’s Do’s Don’ts and Anecdotes” an autobiography that he wrote and published in 2008. It’s hard to think of another person capable of writing about the do’s don’ts of the entertainment business and especially the anecdotes of the exceptional life of a true character actor of theater, film and TV than Phil Bruns.

He is survived by his wife, Laurie Franks Bruns, and his sister, Dorothy Boese and her children, Peggy and Dennis Boese. Phil died at age 80 of natural causes at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, February 8, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

For more information on Phillip Bruns, please visit his website at
For a detailed filmography, theater/television credits, please visit

To send flowers to the family in memory of Phil Bruns, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

Pipestone Performing Arts Center

104 E. Main St., Pipestone, MN 00000

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