Following the announcement that he would be stepping away from acting due to an aphasia diagnosis, the family of actor Bruce Willis announced that his diagnosis had progressed into frontotemporal dementia.
The news comes via an Instagram post by Willis’ daughter, Rumer, with an expanded statement available on the website for the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration. The statement confirms that since Willis’ diagnosis in 2022, his condition has progressed, which has led to a “more specific diagnosis” — the aforementioned frontotemporal dementia.
“Our family wanted to start by expressing our deepest gratitude for the incredible outpouring of love, support and wonderful stories we have all received since sharing Bruce’s original diagnosis,” said Willis in the post. “In the spirit of that, we wanted to give you an update about our beloved husband, father and friend since we now have a deeper understanding of what he is experiencing. Since we announced Bruce’s diagnosis of aphasia in spring 2022, Bruce’s condition has progressed and we now have a more specific diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia (known as FTD).”
The post goes on to note that “unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces.” The statement ends with a note that while it is painful, “it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.”
Willis has been a mainstay in the acting world since the 1980s, when he began his career with various uncredited roles and smaller parts before breaking into the spotlight in 1988’s Die Hard, where he starred as John McClane. After that, Willis became an acting superstar, with his movies grossing over $5 billion worldwide across his more than four-decade career. Willis has also been nominated for five Golden Globes (winning one for the TV series Moonlighting), and three Emmys (winning two, one for Moonlighting and one for a guest role on Friends).
You can read the full statement from Willis’ family below:
As a family, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for the outpouring of love and compassion for Bruce over the past ten months. Your generosity of spirit has been overwhelming, and we are tremendously grateful for it. For your kindness, and because we know you love Bruce as much as we do, we wanted to give you an update.
Since we announced Bruce’s diagnosis of aphasia in spring 2022, Bruce’s condition has progressed and we now have a more specific diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia (known as FTD). Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces. While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.
FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone. For people under 60, FTD is the most common form of dementia, and because getting the diagnosis can take years, FTD is likely much more prevalent than we know. Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead. As Bruce’s condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research.
Bruce always believed in using his voice in the world to help others, and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately. We know in our hearts that – if he could today — he would want to respond by bringing global attention and a connectedness with those who are also dealing with this debilitating disease and how it impacts so many individuals and their families.
Ours is just one family with a loved one who suffers from FTD, and we encourage others facing it to seek out the wealth of information and support available through AFTD (@theaftd, theaftd.org). And for those of you who have been fortunate enough to not have any personal experience with FTD, we hope that you will take the time to learn about it, and support AFTD’s mission in whatever way you can.
Bruce has always found joy in life – and has helped everyone he knows to do the same. It has meant the world to see that sense of care echoed back to him and to all of us. We have been so moved by the love you have all shared for our dear husband, father, and friend during this difficult time. Your continued compassion, understanding, and respect will enable us to help Bruce live as full a life as possible.
-Emma, Demi, Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel, and Evelyn