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Tony Bennett and Other Celebrities Affected by Alzheimer's Disease

Manuela Cardiga
Feb 03, 2021
07:10 A.M.

Iconic crooner Tony Bennett's family has revealed that the 94-year-old is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, like so many other celebrities such as Glen Campbell and Gene Wilder.

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Fans of Tony Bennett were saddened to learn that the apparently spry 94-year-old singer is suffering from Alzheimer's. The family has revealed Bennett's condition in the hope that it will draw attention to a disease that affects so many Americans.

Alzheimer's has visited heartbreak on millions, and among them are celebrities like movie star Rita Hayworth, Gospel singer Thomas Dorsey, country star Glen Campbell, and comedian and actor Gene Wilder.

Studio portrait of singer Tony Bennett as a teen idol | Source: Getty Images

Studio portrait of singer Tony Bennett as a teen idol | Source: Getty Images

TONY BENNETT

The family revealed that Tony was diagnosed in 2016, and the first symptoms had been forgetfulness and confusion -- the first classic signs of the disease. Tony's son and manager, Danny Bennett, his siblings, and his wife Susan made the decision to go public.

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Tony had already been experiencing difficulties when he recorded the album “Cheek to Cheek” with Lady Gaga in 2014. Still, he worked through it all and has been keeping a surprisingly good quality of life with the help and support of his doctors and family.

Alzheimer's disease afflicts 30 to 40 million people worldwide, and over 5 million in the US alone.

Singer Tony Bennett at NBC Universal in 2016 | Source: Getty Images

Singer Tony Bennett at NBC Universal in 2016 | Source: Getty Images

STILL SINGING

Alzheimer's hasn't robbed Tony of his music. In fact, he and Lady Gaga have now announced the release of their second album together, an album created and recorded despite his Alzheimer's and with the support of the "Poker Face" singer.

Unlike many other patients, Tony hasn't suffered personality alterations, and he is still the same good-humored happy man. Gaga stated that Tony's announcement is a gift to other sufferers and will help many come to terms with the dreadful disease.

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ABOUT ALZHEIMER'S

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Alzheimer's disease afflicts 30 to 40 million people worldwide and over 5 million in the US alone. The disease is progressive and neurological in nature and causes the atrophy of the brain and subsequent memory loss.

Sadly, there is no cure for Alzheimer's, and the available medication can only help maintain the sufferer's independence for a while before the disease requires round-the-clock care. Most painful for the families is to watch the person they love slowly deteriorate and lose themselves.

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in the1971 film 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory' | Source: Getty Images

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in the1971 film 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory' | Source: Getty Images

GENE WILDER

Most of us grew up watching Gene Wilder movies, and one of the most popular has always been the 1971 movie "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory." Wilder was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2013 but kept the news private.

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Wilder refused to reveal his diagnosis so as not to sadden the many children who recognized him from the classic movie and might associate it with the disease. To the end, the actor, comedian, and author still clung to memories of his films, such as "Young Frankenstein" and "Willy Wonka."

Glen Campbell onstage at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2012 | Source: Getty Images

Glen Campbell onstage at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2012 | Source: Getty Images

GLEN CAMPBELL

Another victim of Alzheimer's was the country legend Glen Campbell. Campbell and his family were open about his 2011 diagnosis and were accompanied through their ordeal by Mayo Clinic's director of Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, Dr. Ronald Petersen.

Petersen revealed that although Campbell couldn't remember the lyrics to his songs, he could remember the music and play his guitar. Campbell did a goodbye tour and participated in a documentary about his experience with Alzheimer's. The singer passed away in 2017. He was 81.

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Portrait of actress Rita Hayworth taken in 1944 | Source: Getty Images

Portrait of actress Rita Hayworth taken in 1944 | Source: Getty Images

RITA HAYWORTH

40s screen goddess Rita Hayworth was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at 61 and would succumb to the disease seven years later. Her daughter, Princess Yasmine Khan, became worried when she noticed that her mother repeated herself in phone calls.

Hayworth was in her 50s when the first worrying signs appeared, and by the time she was diagnosed, her condition was far advanced. The Princess revealed that Alzheimer's made her once-sweet mother aggressive. Hayworth spent the rest of her life in care, with her daughter by her side.

Gospel singer Thomas Dorsey performing "This Far by Faith" at Bible Way | Source: Getty Images

Gospel singer Thomas Dorsey performing "This Far by Faith" at Bible Way | Source: Getty Images

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THOMAS DORSEY

In 1993, the world bid farewell to Thomas Dorsey, universally regarded as the father of Gospel music. The singer and composer passed away at the age of 93 from Alzheimer's disease. The man who created so many beautiful songs listened to his beloved music right to the end.

These are only a few of the lives affected by Alzheimer's; there are millions more, stories of loss waiting to be told, all heartbreaking. The families of these celebrities suffered alongside them and have all become involved in fighting the dreadful robber of memories.

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