Bruce Willis is not alone: Other celebrities have been diagnosed with aphasia

Bruce Willis is not alone: Other celebrities have been diagnosed with aphasia

Bruce Willis' family announced Wednesday that the actor has been diagnosed with aphasia, a neurological condition that affects a person's ability to understand and communicate with others.

As a result, the “Sixth Sense” and “Die Hard” star is “walking away” from acting, his loved ones said in a statement. According to the National Aphasia Association, this disease is a communication disorder that affects the ability to process language, but not intelligence.

"This is a really difficult time for our family and we are so appreciative of his continued love, compassion and support," the Willis family said Wednesday.

“We are going through all of this as a strong family unit, and we wanted to let his fans know because we know how much he means to all of us. As Bruce always says, 'Live' and together we plan to do just that."

In his battle with aphasia, Willis is not alone. Several artists have previously spoken of his experiences with this disorder, which often occurs in stroke victims.

Here are other actors and musicians who have suffered from aphasia.

Glen Campbell

A man in an embroidered cowboy shirt smiles and plays guitar

Glen Campbell on tour in 2012. (Danny Johnston/Associated Press)

In 2011, country-pop singer and guitarist Campbell announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, telling People magazine that he still liked making music and acting.

In an August 2017 interview with USA Today, Campbell's wife, Kimberly Woolen, said that the musician was also battling aphasia and that he had lost most of his language, as well as his ability to understand the words. He sometimes tried to sing and managed to make sounds.

“But he still has the essence of him,” she said.

Campbell died that month at age 81.

dick clark

A man with dark hair smiles at the camera

Dick Clark in 1987. (Associated Press)

After suffering a stroke in 2004, entertainment icon Clark had to relearn how to walk and talk. Stroke symptoms included slurred speech and partial paralysis, but Clark "refused to give up the fight," said Dr. Larry Goldstein, a professor of medicine and director of the Duke University stroke center and a spokesman for the American Stroke Assn.

"I watched it year after year on the show ['New Year's Rockin' Eve'], and I could see a small but steady improvement year after year," Goldstein told The Times in 2012.

“That's important for patients who are wondering if they're going to recover, or wondering if all the therapy and hard work is worth it. The recovery comes slowly but it comes, and he showed it."

Clark died in 2012 at the age of 82.

Emilia Clarke

A woman smiling with brown hair pulled back into a bun

Emilia Clarke in 2020 (Vianney Le Caer / Invision / AP)

In 2019, “Game of Thrones” star Clarke revealed that she had suffered two life-threatening brain aneurysms. After the filming of the first season of the successful series, the actress became "violent and seriously ill" and felt a "sharp and constricting pain" in her head that took her to a hospital.

At age 24, she underwent surgery to seal the aneurysm. She also suffered from aphasia and, at her “worst moments”, she wanted to die in the hospital.

In March 2019, the Emmy nominee was fully recovered.

"I know from personal experience that the impact of a brain injury is devastating," Clarke said in a statement to her SameYou brain injury charity.

“Recovery is long term and rehabilitation can be difficult. Brain injuries can be an invisible disease, and the subject is often taboo. We must help young adults take control of their recovery and allow them to open up without fear of stigma or shame."

Kirk Douglas

A man poses with his hand on a doorframe

Kirk Douglas in 1982. (Associated Press)

In 1996, screen legend Douglas suffered a stroke that left him unable to speak. The Oscar-nominated actor revealed how the episode affected him emotionally, telling The Times in 1999 that he "would draw the blinds, get into bed and cry" while suffering from a deep depression.

He later played a stroke survivor in the 1999 comedy-adventure “Diamonds” and appeared in a few other film and television projects before his death in 2020 at age 103.

"After a stroke, I made two films with a speech impairment," Douglas wrote in his 2002 memoir "My Break of Luck."

“Now I am waiting for another role to play before the sun sinks below the horizon. You can't stop an actor."

According to the National Aphasia Assn., Douglas once said that he "learned that we take too many things for granted in this world, including speech."