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Gena Rowlands, Star of ‘The Notebook,’ Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease

Gena Rowlands, Star of ‘The Notebook,’ Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease

Legendary actor Gena Rowlands, known for her role in the beloved film “The Notebook,” has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, her son and the film’s director, Nick Cassavetes, revealed. The 94-year-old actress portrayed an older version of Allie, a character with dementia, in the 2004 movie.

Cassavetes shared that Rowlands, who has been battling the illness for the past five years, is now in the full stages of dementia. He expressed the surreal nature of the situation, stating, “We lived it, she acted it, and now it’s on us.”

Rowlands’ performance in “The Notebook” was deeply personal, as her own mother, Lady Rowlands, also suffered from Alzheimer’s. In a 2004 interview with O magazine, Rowlands mentioned that her experience with her mother influenced her portrayal of Allie.

Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurological disorder, affects memory and cognitive function. It has no cure and significantly impacts the lives of those diagnosed. Dr. Tara Narula, an NBC News medical contributor, explained that while age is the biggest risk factor, genetics and environmental factors also play a role. Symptoms can range from memory impairment to severe disorientation and personality changes.

Rowlands’ illustrious career spans decades, earning her multiple accolades, including an honorary Oscar and four Emmy Awards. She began her career on Broadway and television in the early 1950s and appeared in over 40 films. Her most recent film role was in “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” in 2014.

Cassavetes recounted a poignant moment from “The Notebook” when the studio requested a reshoot of a scene where Rowlands’ character cries. Despite her initial reluctance, she delivered a powerful performance, showcasing her exceptional talent.

As the Rowlands-Cassavetes family navigates this challenging period, they hope that sharing their story will raise awareness and provide support to others facing similar battles.

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