Also Credited As:William Bruce Jenner
|William Bruce Jenner on October 28, 1949 in Mount Kisco, New York, USA|
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Born William Bruce Jenner on Oct. 28, 1949 in Mount Kisco, NY, he quickly developed into a superior athlete in almost every sport he attempted - from football and basketball, to track and field and water skiing. He attended Graceland College in Iowa on a football scholarship, where his coach, javelin-throwing champion L.D. Weldon, convinced him to train for the Olympic decathlon after a knee injury derailed Jenner's football career. It was advice well taken, and within a few short years, Jenner had cleared the 1972 Olympic trials. Although he only placed 10th at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, the initial success spurred the athlete on and he embarked on a grueling training regimen of eight hours a day in preparation for his next chance at Olympic gold. His determination paid off at the 1976 Olympics, where he broke the world's record by scoring 8,634 points in the decathlon - a stunning feat, which earned him the gold medal and the title of "World's Greatest Athlete" from the Associated Press. Jenner's sensational win propelled him to worldwide attention, and he shrewdly seized upon the opportunities by signing numerous endorsement deals. The most notable of these was with Wheaties, which put him on its cereal boxes for seven years (he returned to box fronts for its 75th anniversary).
Jenner lent his support and image to numerous charitable and sports-related organizations, including The Special Olympics and The National Dyslexia Research Foundation. The latter held special importance for Jenner, who suffered from the disorder himself. Among his awards were the Sullivan Award for Outstanding Performance as an Amateur Athlete, and membership in both the Olympic Hall of Fame and Track and Field Hall of Fame. Additionally, Jenner became an in-demand sports and news commentator on ABC, NBC, and Fox Sports, covering everything from track and field, surfing, and motocross, to the Olympics. He served as an exercise correspondent on "Good Morning America" (ABC, 1975- ) for the first seven years of its run. Acting seemed like a natural direction for Jenner's abundant talent, but his efforts in this area did not yield memorable results. His feature film debut was in the bizarre musical "Can't Stop the Music" (1980), which saw Jenner awkwardly singing and dancing alongside camp icons the Village People and co-star Valerie Perrine. He fared slightly better in the TV movie "Grambling's White Tiger" (NBC, 1981), a biopic about the first white player on an all-black football team which he produced for his own company, Jenner Productions. From there, Jenner acted mainly in episodic television, including a stint on "CHiPs" (NBC, 1977-1983) during the 1981 season, as well as episodes of "Murder, She Wrote" (1984-1996) and "The Love Boat" (ABC, 1977-1986) in the mid-80s. Over the years, he has also appeared as himself on several television shows and in features, including on an episode of "Silver Spoons" (NBC, 1982-87).
In the years that followed, Jenner pursued a variety of endeavors that included touring as a motivational speaker, producing exercise videos with his second wife, the former Kris Kardashian, and hosting the show "Healthy Lifestyles" (syndicated, 1988-89), in addition to a multitude of infomercials. Jenner also made sporadic returns to acting, such as his appearance opposite Kris Kristofferson and Martin Sheen in the direct-to-video drama "Original Intent" (1992), and later, a cameo as himself in the Craig Ferguson hairstyling comedy "The Big Tease" (2000). He also competed in a number of network game shows and reality programs for his favorite charities, including "The Weakest Link" (NBC, 2001-03), the garish "I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here!" (ABC, 2002-03), and "Skating with Celebrities" (Fox, 2005-06). The latter show proved that, although his legacy as an Olympic champion was well assured, his brief - and painfully awkward - time on the ice revealed that this super-athlete was not "super" at all sports. Then, in a twist of fate that could only take place in Hollywood, it would be Jenner's participation in a reality series centered on the exploits of his wife and step-daughters that would bring him the kind of notoriety he had not enjoyed since the heady years following his 1976 Olympic victory.
After the release of her infamous sex tape in 2007, Hollywood socialite Kim Kardashian became a hot property on the tabloid circuit, with project developers scrambling to come up with a showcase that would capitalize on her considerable exposure. Not surprisingly, that platform came in the guise of a reality show, "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" (E!, 2007- ), which followed the escapades of Kim, her sisters, mother, and perpetually perturbed celebrity step-father, Bruce Jenner. Despite critical accusations of being heavily scripted, as well as the even less forgivable crime of tediousness, the series became an unexpected ratings hit, with the second season breaking records for the cable network. For his part, Jenner's involvement seemed to consist largely of looking on in a constant state of bewilderment and disapproval, as wife Kris and the girls struggled with issues of dating, clothing, and career options. In addition to his ongoing tour of duty on "The Kardashians," Jenner made other cameo appearances as himself in the made-for-TV family comedy "Gym Teacher: The Movie" (Nickelodeon, 2008), and added his voice to the animated sitcom "Family Guy" (Fox, 1999- ).