Bruce Willis Is “Not Totally Verbal” Amid Aphasia and Dementia Battle

Bruce Willis is somewhat "incommunicative" following his diagnoses with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia, according to Moonlighting creator Glenn Gordon Caron.

By Lindsay Weinberg Oct 13, 2023 2:34 AMTags
Watch: Emma Heming Speaks Out On Bruce Willis' Dementia Battle

Bruce Willis continues to face challenges with this health. 

The Die Hard actor—who was diagnosed with the language disorder aphasia in 2022 and frontotemporal dementia earlier this year—is now "not totally verbal," according to friend Glenn Gordon Caron, the creator of the '80s TV show Moonlighting, which co-starred Willis and Cybill Shepherd

"My sense is the first one to three minutes he knows who I am," Caron told the New York Post in an article published Oct. 12. "He used to be a voracious reader—he didn't want anyone to know that—and he's not reading now. All those language skills are no longer available to him, and yet he's still Bruce."

"When you're with him you know that he's Bruce and you're grateful that he's there," he continued, "but the joie de vivre is gone."

According to Caron, who said he occasionally communicates with Willis' wife Emma Heming Willis and his older children, "it means a lot" to Willis that Moonlighting was recently made available for streaming online.

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Bruce Willis' Best Roles

"I know he's really happy that the show is going to be available for people," he noted, "even though he can't tell me that."

Explaining the move to streaming has been in the works for a while, Carson said he was able to spend time with Willis, 68, and discuss it before the action star's condition advanced.

"I know he's excited," Caron shared. "I was able to communicate with him, before the disease rendered him as incommunicative as he is now, about hoping to get the show back in front of people." 

VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Caron went on to praise the Pulp Fiction actor—who retired from Hollywood last year for health reasons—as an "extraordinary" person who "loved life."

According to the Medium producer, Willis "just adored waking up every morning and trying to live life to its fullest."

"So the idea that he now sees life through a screen door, if you will, makes very little sense," he added. "He's really an amazing guy."

Instagram/Tallulah Willis

In February, Willis' wife Emma, ex-wife Demi Moore and kids Rumer Willis, 35, Scout Willis, 32, Tallulah Willis, 29, Mabel Willis, 11, and Evelyn Willis, 9, shared in a joint statement on social media that the patriarch's condition had progressed.

"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," read the statement. "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."

Explaining he'd been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia—which can cause trouble communicating and difficulty walking, among other conditions—they shared, "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."

To look back on his most precious family moments over the years, read on:

Tallulah Willis' 30th Birthday Celebration

In February 2024, Demi Moore shared this pic of her ex-husband with the youngest of the three daughters they share together, writing, "Showering our @buuski with love today on her 30th birthday."

"Grateful and Thankful"

In November 2023, the actor celebrated his first Thanksgiving since being diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia earlier that year. His wife Emma Heming Willis shared this photo from Bruce's 68th birthday party from March.

"I’m grateful and thankful to know this kind of love," she wrote. "Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving."

Blended Family

Bruce Willis stepped out with his wife Emma Heming Willis to celebrate the release of ex Demi Moore's 2019 memoir Inside Out. He is joined by his three daughters with the G.I. Jane actress, Rumer Willis, Scout Willis and Tallulah Willis.

Adventure Is Out There

Bruce and Emma appear on a hike with their daughters Evelyn Willis and Mabel Willis.

All Smiles

The actor posed with his ex-wife and their daughters Rumer and Tallulah backstage at his Comedy Central roast in 2018.

Three Generations

Bruce became a grandpa in April 2023 when Rumer welcomed a baby girl named Louetta.

Newest Addition

The entire family got together to celebrate the birth of Rumer's baby.

Backstage Buddies

Bruce had two special vistors when he starred in Broadway's Misery in 2016.

Broadway Bunch

The family showed up in full force to support Rumer's 2015 Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in Chicago.

Feeling Festive

"I put my camera on a ladder, set the timer, and crossed my fingers," Emma captioned this family Christmas photo. "Now that’s 2020 for you."

Movie Date

Bruce took his three oldest daughters to the Over the Hedge premiere in 2006.

Sweet Kisses

The dad of five shared a sweet moment with daughter Mabel.

Daddy's Girls

Tallulah, Scout and Rumer joined their dad at a Bruce Willis Charity Foundation in 2005.

Dancing With the Fam

The family celebrated Rumer's Dancing With the Stars win with Val Chmerkovskiy.

Polaroid Memories

"What a privilege it is every day to be your daughter," Rumer captioned this throwback photo. "I love you so much. You are the coolest cat in town."

A Birthday to Remember

Emma rang in her 43rd birthday in 2021 with Bruce and their daughters, as well as Rumer and Demi.

'Tis the Season

The family spent Christmas 2022 together.

Star Status

Bruce was joined by mom Marlene and his three oldest daughters when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006.

Happy Haunts

The action star dressed up with Mabel and Evelyn on Halloween 2021.

Getting Silly

Tallulah jokingly captioned this photo of herself and dad Bruce making silly faces, "high drama club."

Snow Squad

Evelyn and Mabel hit the slopes during a family ski trip.

Gang's All Here

The family, including Demi's then-husband Ashton Kutcher, stepped out to watch Rumer in 2008's The House Bunny.

Disney Magic

Bruce and Emma took their kids to Walt Disney World in 2017.

Proud Parents

"First time performing in a play for these two!" Emma wrote on Instagram 2018. "Mabel played Molly and Evelyn as Sandy in an Off-off-off-off-off-off Broadway [winking emoji] production of Annie. The whole cast and production was stellar—Mom and Dad couldn’t be prouder."