Back in the Day: Bruce Willis Partied, But 'Only Liked Pot'

The Sept. 8, 1986 Newsweek cover featuring Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd.

Update: Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, leading to his sudden retirement from acting at 67. Last year, Willis' condition was described as aphasia, which is generally the result of a stroke or a traumatic brain injury. Both conditions cause problems with speech, language and cognition. Willis is retiring from acting because he can't properly recite his lines, his daughter Rumer announced on Instagram.

"Our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities," she wrote on March 30, 2022. "As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him."

Reports out of Hollywood say Willis hasn't been well for a while, that his film shoots were kept short and dialogue condensed to make it easier for him to speak his lines. He used an "earwig" for prompts from an assistant.

Willis, 67, has no record of a stroke or major head trauma. Perhaps he took some blows if he was doing his own stunts in movies like Diehard.

About the latest diagnosis, Willis' family issued the following statement:

"It is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis. FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone. For people under 60, FTD is the most common form of dementia, and because getting the diagnosis can take years, FTD is likely much more prevalent than we know. Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead. As Bruce's condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research," the family added.

Originally a comic actor - he won a Golden Globe for his cool-guy role as Davis Addison opposite Cybil Shepherd's Maddie Hayes in Moonlighting on ABC from 1985-1989 - Willis pivoted into action parts thanks to the Diehard series (he did five from 1988 to 2013).

"I smoked a lot of pot when I wasn't acting."


Bruce Willis on Drugs

In 2007, Willis said about New York in the late '70s and early '80s: "Living in Manhattan was the most irresponsible, carefree time of my life. I had a great time going wild. I drank too much. I also smoked weed and tried various drugs.

"I only liked pot, though. I smoked a lot of pot and when I wasn't acting, I was out dancing every night. I had a blast and I could stretch $20 over three days - I would live off pizza and beer."

By 1988, he joined Alcoholics Anonymous and adopted an L.A. sober lifesstyle“Once I realized that I wasn’t gonna run myself off the pier of life with alcohol, drinking vodka out of the bottle every day. I have wine now, mostly when I eat.”

This article was posted on Apr. 2, 2022. It has been updated.


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.