Bruce Willis steps out with friends after announcement of dementia diagnosis

Man with bald head wearing black blazer and blue shirt, giving slight smile on HBO red carpet
Bruce Willis, shown attending a movie premiere in New York in 2019, was seen out and about this week in Santa Monica for the first time since his diagnosis was made public.
(Charles Sykes / Invision/Associated Press)

Bruce Willis was seen grabbing coffee with friends this week in Santa Monica, the first time the veteran action star was spotted in public after revealing his frontotemporal dementia diagnosis.

The “Die Hard” and “Armageddon” star, 67, left acting last year due to cognitive struggles. In February, his family announced that his condition had worsened.

“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),” said the Feb. 16 statement signed by wife Emma Heming Willis, ex-wife Demi Moore and daughters Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel and Evelyn. The family called it a “cruel disease.”

Bruce Willis, who retired from acting last year due to aphasia issues, has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, his family said Thursday.

Feb. 16, 2023


“Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces,” the statement continued. “While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.”

When Willis was seen Thursday out with two friends, he was wearing a blue sweater, black joggers and a hat, according to photos and video obtained by the Daily Mail. The two-time Emmy Award winner also was spotted out with friends in Los Angeles for lunch in late January, the British tabloid said.

An estimated 50,000 people in the United States live with frontotemporal dementia, according to experts, and it typically hits between ages 45 and 64. The progressive brain disease affects the frontal and/or anterior temporal lobes of the brain,— lobes that have a wide range of responsibilities, including controlling voluntary movement, expressive language, managing higher-level executive functions and processing semantic memory.

Frontotemporal dementia is the most common form of dementia among adults under 60. After symptoms arise, the average life expectancy is seven to 13 years.

Feb. 16, 2023

The condition first asserts itself in one of two ways depending on the specific part of the brain in which the disease begins: with major changes to the person’s behavior or linguistic ability. Patients may become suddenly and uncharacteristically uninhibited, saying and doing things that appear inappropriate or impulsive to those around them.

And the prognosis is bleak. There currently is no cure and no way to prevent its onset, according to the Assn. of Frontotemporal Degeneration. The average life expectancy is seven to 13 years after the start of symptoms.

Prior to Willis’ new diagnosis and before his abrupt retirement, rumors about his work performance had been heard in Hollywood for years. Nearly two dozen people who had been on set with the “Moonlighting” star expressed concern to Times reporters Meg James and Amy Kaufman.


In interviews with The Times this month, nearly two dozen people who were on set with the actor expressed concern about Willis’ well-being.

March 30, 2022

They questioned whether Willis — who was often paid $2 million for two days of work — was fully aware of his surroundings on set, according to documents viewed by The Times.

Filmmakers described the “Pulp Fiction” and “The Sixth Sense” star as grappling with his loss of mental acuity and an inability to remember dialogue.

Times staff writers Christie D’Zurilla and Corinne Purtill contributed to this report.