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6 Celebrities With Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: Bruce Willis, Wendy Williams and More

celebrities with alzheimers disease dementia
Source: MEGA

Jul. 7 2024, Published 11:01 a.m. ET

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Bruce Willis

bruce willis
Source: MEGA

Die Hard star Bruce Willis’ family stated in 2022 that he had been diagnosed with aphasia. Nearly two years later, his family said his “condition has progressed” to a much more serious condition called frontotemporal dementia.

Willis’ wife, Emma Heming, said the diagnosis has been difficult for him and his family.

Dementia is hard … it’s hard on the person diagnosed, it’s also hard on the family. And that is no different for Bruce, or myself, or our girls,” she said.

The retired action star, 69, has three daughters with first wife Demi MooreRumer, 36, Scout, 32, and Tallulah, 30 — and two with Emma — Mabel, 12, and Evelyn, 10.

There are several medications that can reduce agitation, irritability and depression in those with frontotemporal dementia. These treatments can help improve quality of life but have not been proven to stop the disease. Life expectancy after diagnosis is seven to 13 years.

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Steve Lawrence

steve lawrence
Source: MEGA

Longtime Las Vegas entertainer and actor Steve Lawrence, 88, revealed in June 2019 that he was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

In an open letter to fans, Lawrence said, “I want my beloved fans to know that in spite of this bittersweet moment, what I don’t want is pity or sympathy. I have lived and am living a wonderful, joyous life filled with love, support and amazing moments. With my beloved Eydie [Gormé], I had one of the great loves of all time; my career has always been there for me as a source of joy and fulfillment; and you, my fans, have shown immeasurable love and support in ways I only could have imagined.”

Singers Lawrence and Gormé were married in Las Vegas on December 29, 1957, during her first solo engagement on the Strip. They were first billed as a couple at the Sahara in 1961, went on to become regulars at the Sands and Caesars Palace, and made frequent appearances on TV.

Gormé died in 2013 at age 84 following a brief, undisclosed illness.

Lawrence, on the other hand, died from complications of his Alzheimer's disease on March 7.

Tippi Hedren

tippi hedren
Source: MEGA

The once-unflappable Tippi Hedren — star of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic The Birds — is suffering from dementia and no longer remembers her movie career.

A rep for Tippi said, “Unfortunately, time has taken its toll.”

Hedren, 94, who rose to fame in The Birds and also starred in Hitchcock’s next film, Marnie, is the mother of Melanie Griffith and grandmother of Dakota Johnson.

Her team said she “is no longer able to be interviewed due to health reasons. She has dementia, and is unable to remember her career at all.” She earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as well as a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer in 1964.

She was married three times — first to ad exec Peter Griffith in 1952, then to her agent Noel Marshall, before the two divorced in 1982, and three years later she tied the knot with businessman Luis Barrenechea, but they split in 1995.

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Jack Hanna

jack hanna
Source: MEGA

“While Dad/Jack is still mobile, his mind fails him, the light in his eyes has dimmed, and we miss who he was each & every moment of the day,” celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna’s family wrote in a statement.

Hanna, 77, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2019, and retired in 2020, shortly after his final stage performance with animals.

“He would have worked until the day he died. He only retired due to Alzheimer’s,” his daughter Kathaleen said. “He was embarrassed by it. He lived in fear the public would find out.”

Jack's wife, Suzi, said he didn’t want the public to know his diagnosis. After the Columbus Zoo, which he was no longer directing, faced problems that included losing its main accreditation, some sought a response from him. So, the family decided to reveal his diagnosis in 2021.

Suzi said it “killed her” to break her promise and go public about his condition.

“If this helps even one other family, it’s more than worth sharing dad’s story,” said Kathaleen. “He spent a lifetime helping everyone he could. He will never know it or understand it, but he is still doing it now.”

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Wendy Williams

wendy williams
Source: MEGA

TV host Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and aphasia. The two conditions are caused by shrinkage in parts of the brain, and can lead to symptoms such as trouble communicating or changes in personality.

“After undergoing a battery of medical tests,” Williams was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia in 2023, according to a statement from her representatives.

“Over the past few years, questions have been raised at times about Wendy’s ability to process information and many have speculated about Wendy’s condition, particularly when she began to lose words, act erratically at times, and have difficulty understanding financial transactions,” the release stated. “Receiving a diagnosis has enabled Wendy to receive the medical care she requires.”

“I want to say I have immense gratitude for the love and kind words I have received after sharing my diagnosis of Aphasia and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD),” said Williams, who will turn 60 on July 18.

She said she hopes others with the same condition “benefit from my story,” adding, “I continue to need personal space and peace to thrive. Please just know that your positivity and encouragement are deeply appreciated.”

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Joanne Woodward

joanne woodward
Source: MEGA

Oscar winner Joanne Woodward, 94, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007, just days before her husband, Paul Newman, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Woodward and Newman's incredible love story was the crux of the recent six-part documentary The Last Movie Stars. The HBO miniseries, directed by Ethan Hawke, revealed that while her husband was living with cancer, the Three Faces of Eve actress was also on her own health journey.

Woodward — the mother of three grown daughters — is living with her family in Connecticut.

“At this point, the best that can be done for Joanne is to keep her comfortable while waiting for the inevitable,” said an insider. “It’s a tribute to her courage and determination she has lived with this debilitating disease as long as she has.”

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