LOS ANGELES, Feb 16 (Reuters) – Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, his family said on Thursday, nearly a year after the “Die Hard” franchise star retired from acting due to aphasia that hampered his cognitive abilities.
“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),” his family said in a statement posted on The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration website.
“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.”
The statement, to which the family attached a photo of a smiling Willis at the beach, said there are no current treatments for the disease. The family said that they hoped Willis’ diagnosis at the age of 67 would bring more focus to battling FTD.
“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,” the statement said.
Frontotemporal degeneration is caused by progressive nerve cell loss in the brain’s frontal lobes or its temporal lobes.
Willis’ family believes that if the retired actor were able to, he would use his voice to raise awareness about dementia and how to help others with it too.
Journalist Maria Shriver expressed her “gratitude for shining a much needed light on this disease,” adding that “When people step forward it helps all of us.”
The actor’s oldest daughter, actor Rumer Willis, also posted the announcement on Instagram and received support from others in the entertainment industry.
“Love you so much my friend. Sending hugs to you and that beautiful family of yours. Your pops is such damn legend,” “Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul wrote.
Willis rose to fame in the 1980s comedy-drama TV series “Moonlighting,” and has appeared in about 100 films across his four-decade career, garnering acclaim for his roles in “Pulp Fiction” and “The Sixth Sense,” and winning a Golden Globe Award and two Emmys.
But Willis is perhaps best known for playing the tough-as-nails New York cop who pursued bad guys in the five “Die Hard” movies, released from 1988 to 2013.