🔒 Celebrities who’ve been diagnosed with aphasia

Bruce Willis’ recent revelation put the language disorder in the spotlight

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 04: Bruce Willis attends the 17th Annual A Great Night In Harlem at The Apollo Theater on April 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images) (Theo Wargo, 2019 Getty Images)

Bruce Willis is known for out-toughing bad guys on the big screen.

But in a statement from his family, the beloved Hollywood actor now faces his toughest opponent. Willis, 67, announced he’s stepping away from stage due to being diagnosed with aphasia, a language disorder caused by damage in a specific area of the brain that controls language expression and comprehension. Aphasia leaves a person unable to communicate effectively with others. Many people have aphasia as a result of a stroke.

The “Die Hard” star isn’t the only Tinseltown titan to be diagnosed with the disease. Here are some others:

Sharon Stone

Sharon Stone poses for photographers upon arrival at the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS benefit during the 74th Cannes international film festival, Cap d'Antibes, southern France, Friday, July 16, 2021. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

The “Basic Instinct” star suffered a stroke in 2001. She told The Hollywood Reporter. “I came home from that stroke stuttering, couldn’t read for two years,” she said. “... It’s been a humbling journey: I was on ‘Law & Order’ ... and I had a hard time with my lines. I can talk about it now because I’m OK now ... I feel really good about talking and having my full vocabulary.”

Emilia Clarke

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen

The “Game of Thrones” actress revealed in 2019 that she has had two life-threatening aneurysms and two brain surgeries since the show began. An unknown actress before landing the role, Clarke had just finished filming her first season as Daenerys Targaryen, the “Mother of Dragons,” on the HBO fantasy series when she had her first aneurysm in 2011 at age 24 while working out at a London gym.

“Just when all my childhood dreams seemed to have come true, I nearly lost my mind and then my life,” Clarke writes in a first-person story in The New Yorker. “I’ve never told this story publicly, but now it’s time.”

Dick Clark

1989: "American Bandstand" airs its final episode after more than 30 years on television. Dick Clark hosted the show from 1956 until April 1, 1989, with comedian David Hirsch taking over for the show's last six months. (Kevin Winter/ImageDirect)

According to his bio on Aphasia.org, the “American Bandstand” host who also threw the biggest televised New Year’s Eve party every year in Times Square suffered a stroke in 2004 just weeks before his annual duties to turn the calendar forward.

When he woke up on Dec. 6, his right side was paralyzed.

He was able to speak and tell his wife how he felt. She got him to the hospital where he remained for several weeks. Afterward, he moved on to physical rehabilitation and speech therapy. He didn’t miss the 2005 New Year’s Eve show and continued to host until his death in 2012.

Gabby Giffords

FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, file photo, former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, of Arizona, joins other Democrats in a call for action on gun safety legislation on the House steps at the Capitol in Washington. As a mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol this week, former Rep. Gabby Giffords could only wait nervously for news about her husband, Mark Kelly, who was barely a month into his job as a newly elected senator from Arizona. A decade earlier it was Kelly enduring the excruciating wait for news about Giffords, who was shot in the head in an attempted assassination that, like Wednesday's siege, shocked the nation and prompted a reckoning about the state of politics and discourse in the United States. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The former U.S. representative from Arizona suffered the disease after she was shot in the head during an assassination attempt in 2011 and survived. Although years of surgeries and therapy have helped her recover, she still struggles with aphasia.

“Aphasia really sucks,” she told PBS News Hour in 2021. “The words are there in my brain. I just can’t get them out. I love to talk. I’m gabby.”

Randy Travis

Randy Travis

The Country Music Hall of Famer suffered a near-fatal stroke in 2013. In his memoir called “Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith and Braving the Storms of Life,” Travis’ wife, Mary, revealed the crooner could still sing his hits but couldn’t communicate normally through speech.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Mary Travis said, “and the warrior that he is, he mustered up the strength to squeeze my hand. I was like, ‘We’re fighting this. He’s not ready to give up and we’re not giving up. Only the only person that’s going to take him out of this world is God.’”

Kirk Douglas

Actor Kirk Douglas attends the last 70mm film screening of "Spartacus" at AMPAS Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Aug. 13, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Getty Images)

Actor Kirk Douglas died in 2020 at age 103. A stroke in 1996 changed his relationship with language, and he struggled with aphasia until his death.


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