Tallulah Willis: Dad's Trouble Started Long Ago

Family initially attributed his frontotemporal dementia to 'Hollywood hearing loss'
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2023 2:10 PM CDT
Tallulah Willis: Dad's Trouble Started Long Ago
Tallulah Willis, left, smiles at her father, Bruce Willis, and her sister Rumer Willis, in this 2007 photo.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

In a first-person essay for Vogue, Bruce Willis' daughter Tallulah writes that her famous father's dementia-related trouble started years ago. At the time, however, she and other family members didn't realize what was happening. "It started out with a kind of vague unresponsiveness, which the family chalked up to Hollywood hearing loss: 'Speak up! Die Hard messed with Dad’s ears,'" she writes. But in time, the unresponsiveness grew worse and worse. The 29-year-old writes that her "adolescent brain" at first thought the problem was herself: "I'm not interesting enough for my own father." Now she knows the truth after his diagnoses of aphasia and frontotemporal dementia.

In the essay, Willis writes of her own struggles with issues including anorexia nervosa and wonders if her father might have stepped in to help had he been his true self. She imagines him scooping her up and saying, "This is ending now," in sync with his manner of fixing things. "There’s a beauty in his way, and I don’t think I noticed it until he was no longer capable of it." She's in a better place now with her own health problems and is making peace with her father's. One silver lining is that he still recognizes her and "lights up when I enter the room." (Read her full essay, in which she notes that mom Demi Moore, ever protective, asked, "Who approved this?" when Tallulah told her of the plan to write it.)

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