Emma Heming Willis, the wife of Bruce Willis, gave an emotional update about her husband's condition on the Today show. Doctors diagnosed the Die Hard actor with frontotemporal dementia earlier this year.
In a rare conversation with the media, Heming Willis told Today that frontotemporal dementia is a “family disease,” not because it is genetic or in a family's DNA, per se, but because it affects the entire family. Heming Willis and Willis share two young daughters, Mabel and Evelyn. “It was important we let them know what it is, because I don't want there to be any stigma or shame attached to their dad's diagnosis or any form of dementia,” said Heming Willis. “I think it was the blessing and the curse, to finally understand what was happening so that I could be into the acceptance of what is. It doesn't make it any less painful, but just being in the acceptance, and just being in the know of what is happening to Bruce just makes it a little bit easier.”
Bruce Willis' Final Film Role Dropped This Year
Willis had his breakout role on TV's Moonlighting, the success of which landed him his most famous role as John McClane (pictured, above) in 1988's Die Hard. He played McClane in six movies, most recently in 2013's A Good Day to Die Hard. He is also known for his roles in The Fifth Element, Hudson Hawk, Death Becomes Her, Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys, The Sixth Sense, Sin City, Planet Terror, and many more. Willis' final film, the direct-to-video sci-fi/action movie Assassin, dropped in March 2023.
A family statement posted on the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration website earlier this years reads:
“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 10 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.”
When asked by Today if Willis is aware of his diagnosis, Heming Willis whispered, “It's hard to know.” She said that a silver lining to this unfortunate situation is that it helps her daughters mature and grow. “It's teaching them so much and how to care and love, and it's a beautiful thing amongst the sadness,” she said.