Dear Mr. Ferrell,

I would like to thank you for severing ties to a film that uses Alzheimer’s as comedic material. I’m sure yesterday was not a great day for you, given the public backlash against this project. It wasn’t a great day for a lot of people. I wish you could read some of the letters that poured into my website — actually you can, if you’d like to go to my website. I didn’t have room to post all of them, there are hundreds more. Most of them said nothing about my father but instead told in heartbreaking detail what their own situations are in losing a loved one to dementia.

The man whose mother got so disoriented she went outside, locked herself out of the house in the dead of winter and froze to death. The couple who are caring for their daughter, in her 40s, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s. The woman whose husband of 61 years has no idea who she is. The stories go on and on and they will break your heart. I felt obligated to read all of them. Maybe you have some idea now how widespread this disease is, how many millions of people it affects, and how profoundly un-humorous it is. We may never meet, I may never know your reasons for dropping out of this project, but I will remain grateful that you did so.

On a personal note, the subject matter of the film exhumed the theory that my father was suffering from dementia in his second term of office. I got a few of those letters too — cruel, arrogant, and mis-informed. No one who has claimed to know this has a medical degree, nor did they ever meet my father. The doctors who did treat him have dismissed the notion, and they know much more than anyone else.

However, the bigger picture is what matters. If you had been planning to do a comedic film about a fictional character with Alzheimer’s, my letter to you would have been the same. This is a disease far bigger than one person. It is, at the moment, incurable and unstoppable. It is the shadow that lurks around every corner, and no one knows who it will claim next.


  1. david marks says:

    Patti- you are so classy and beautiful, with a heart of gold. You did the right thing, you took the high road, and you didn’t give in to the media, who all wanted a piece of you for their personal gain, and I admire that beyond words.

  2. michael martin says:

    Thank you Patti, I’m one of the hundreds not posted. My first draft I typed my email address was typed wrong as the tears were flowing……………
    I’m the one who had the privilege to spend those three days in hospice being with Dad!
    Four and a half years ago and now it seems like yesterday.
    When Dad died, I said goodbye, jumped in my car to drive back to San Diego from Scottsdale. A Az State Trooper stopped me for speeding he learned I just left the hospice. Note Dad died during the early hours of that dark morning. Trooper was a Veteran like Dad, Dad in Korea and Trooper in Vietnam. I noted the smell of death all over me, he noticed I had no feelings and told me to place the auto in cruise and go home. As I noted, friends and acquaintances noted I had no tears or showed no feelings. Thank you so much because now I have feelings and it is so important on what you did Patti for the silent people…………..Then, two weeks later I spent another three days in hospice watching my Mom die after a botched knee replacement with my beautiful ex-wife dying twelve hours before Mom with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. Again, thank you for letting me express my love for Dad who I do think recognized his oldest son, if not my voice during those three days during his coma. Michael Martin on behalf of myself and my two brothers, Dan and Chris.
    Will did the right thing. His response via agent was first thing this morning!

  3. Job well done Patti! You have righted an injustice for not only your late Father, but for everyone suffering from this cruel disease, and their families, friends, and caregivers.

    All that evil in this world needs to win is for good people to do nothing. You did something and won for everyone!

    Thank you!

    Jeff Jancarek
    Mountain Lakes, NJ

  4. David Deutsch says:

    Patti, this happy outcome is a testament to the power of words and causes well chosen. Please keep writing and standing up for your beliefs. I know you will.

  5. Patty Fontanilla says:

    At only 65, my beloved died from Lewy Body dementia. Taking care of him for the short four years was the biggest honor of my life. It was also the saddest most terrible thing ever. Thank you Patti for your deep love of your Dad, and I am so sorry for your loss.

  6. Ron S. says:

    My mother passed with dementia with Parkinson’s Disease and now my wife is showing signs of dementia. I am glad that Mr. Ferrell has removed himself from this project. Perhaps he will take this opportunity as a “teaching moment” as some like to say, and devote a project to a serious subject with some serious acting.

    It worked for Robin Williams — are you as big a man and comedian, Mr. Ferrell? Yeah, this is a challenge.

  7. G. Brooks Arnold says:

    Dear Ms. Davis,

    After just reading your first letter to Mr. Farrell, having been directed there via an outside link, I’m so glad I clicked on “Home” and got to see this second letter. Well done! You have done your parents your family and all of us proud.

    Many Blessings!

  8. Frankie says:

    Idk where to start. I have been crying since news of this broke. I don’t write well so bare with me. I lost my Dad to Dementia 3 years ago and it still hurts. I was 30 when I became his protector and I had to give up the chance to have my Dad walk me down the aisle. Actually, my life ended with being his protector. My Dad is the kindest guy and best Daddie, but Dementia killed him 3 years ago. His children, family, friends, and colleagues bailed on him. Who wants to be around a “retard” who can’t remember are comments said to me. I lived with my Dad during his fight with this bastard! From 2007-2013, my Dad had to be watched 24/7 and he was non-verbal and it was so hard. As you had written in your open letter that you recalled your Dad asking where am I!?!,; I also lived that many times and I tilled me more every time. “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I remember….?” Is heartbreaking to hear. As I mentioned, my Dad was the best guy but his dementia made him very aggressive. He would attack my Mom and I out of fear/ confusion. I used to have to stand between my parents when my Dad was agitated and tell my Dad “Dad I know you are confused but hit me and not your wife”. That interaction with my Dad was the easiest! I could go on…… Thank You So Much for your “Voice” with your letters. It is much appreciated. Like your Mom mentioned many times; it’s the long goodbye. I wish I was at least in my 40s when my dementia life started!

  9. Michele says:

    Mrs. Davis
    I thank you wholeheartedly for all you have done on behalf of families who have lost or have loved ones with alzheimer’s dementia. I lost my grandmother to this horrific disease. I miss her terribly. My father took on the role as her caregiver until the day she left us. I too remember the confused moments the lost gazes the little moments where my grandmother would seem to come back my grandfather asking that I take my daughter over because it would calm her as she thought she was her child. I remember the night she passed, walking in her room to check on her, my dad on one side of the bed my uncle on the other, having to tell them it seemed like the time was near. It broke my heart to say that to them, their faces , knowing their mom would soon join their father , I will never forget. I can go on and on.
    To Mr. Ferrell and others who may not understand, I hope you will never have to.
    blessings to you and your family

  10. Michelle OGrady says:

    My Grandfather proudly worked on your Father’s education committee during his Presidential terms, and our family has a great level of respect for him. I run a Memory Care community for people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s and this disease has also touched my family. I feel a personal responsibility to stand up for people who cannot advocate for themselves and help to preserve their dignity and quality of life. These men and woman ask me on a daily basis, “Where am I going?”, or “What am I doing here?” and I reply, “You’re right where you belong, safe and with the people who love you.”. None of my words of course are reassurance enough, but we do all we can to bring comfort, and keep our residents engaged for as long as we can. We cannot take away their confusion or fear, frustration, or sadness. But we can remain compassionate, kind and supportive and try to understand and support as best we can. I want to congratulate you for being a powerful and sound voice for these people, who are our Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents, Sons, Daughters, and every day human souls from all walks of life across our world, who can no longer speak up for themselves. By not moving forward with the production of this movie, Will Ferrell is showing some level of understanding that there’s nothing funny about mockery at the expense of people’s dignity. That’s a good start…

  11. Karen thomson says:

    Well done patti, although I haven’t been affected by any family member having this disease, I work in a care home and I see the heartbreak it causes,families who come to see their loved ones,only for them to sit and cry because their loved ones just don’t know who they are. It makes me weep as well, as it is heartbreaking to see,we have residents asking on a daily basis why am I here, where am I, or where is my mum & dad,if someone has never encountered someone with any form of dementia they just don’t understand it, but as you say there is also laughter but not at them,with them so how anyone could sit and write a script mocking this illness and thinking it would make a good comedy film is beyond me,so good for you for writing your letter to Mr ferrell, it has sparked a lot of discussion,even here in the UK.

    • Lynne A says:

      Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s. She got it at 54 years old. I am now losing my mother in law to it now. Your voice was speaking for all of us. I wish you many blessings in return.

  12. My mother is almost 91. She has been struggling with dementia for a few years. Most of the time she knows who we all are. But her stories she talks about are from her youth. My mom had a double mastectomy at age 81. A pacemaker at age 84. A stroke 3 months ago that she fully recouped from. A lot of health issues. But is a tough cookie. We are very fortunate she is still with us.

    My heart goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one to this horrible disease. A good friend of mine just lost his 60 year old wife a few months ago. After years of caring for her at home. Such a horrible disease.

    This was a most beautiful letter. It touched my heart deeply as from reading comments. It touched a lot of hearts.

    Thank you for helping open the eyes to people that this is nothing to laugh about. It’s scary as hell.

    Martha Oliver Swartz

  13. Teri says:

    Thank you, Patti. When I read that a “comedian” would really think this is funny material, I, like all of you, was appalled. The more people understand this horrific disease, the more opportunities there will be for research and discovery. God bless you for continuing Nancy’s journey, on behalf of every human being.

    I do not have personal experience with Alzheimer’s but, as a news reporter, I have done a few stories. It is heartbreaking and something I am afraid of, deep down. In my family, my two aunts have dementia and my mother is showing signs too. We are all susceptible.

    Patti, you are a voice. Keep it up, Girl.


  14. Joan Bennett says:

    Just wanted to thank you this was wonderful to see what you did. This has touched my heart so much!!

  15. Lisa Feit says:

    Thank you Patti and thank you Will. I hope this movie script is destroyed.

    We just lost my mother, a brilliant and gifted teacher of English and Hebrew and Torah…a person who wanted to change the world and make it a better place…a devoted wife of almost 49 years and a devoted mother and grandmother, a few weeks shy of her 70th birthday…

    Alzheimer’s has devastated our lives. We will never be the same. There is nothing funny about the 8 years that she suffered and that we suffered.

    We need movies that teach, educate, raise awareness that this disease is not just an old person’s disease. That this is not just forgetfulness. That Alzheimer’s kills. There is no prevention. There is no treatment. There is no cure.

    I will never meet either of you…but today I am grateful.

    My world, my father’s world and my children’s world has been forever changed by this disease.

    Today a good thing has happened.

    Thank you for standing up for us, Patti.

    Thank you for saying no to this Will.

    Lisa Feit

  16. […] sought to change the tone and promote words and values surrounding love and kindness. Patti Davis used her voice to communicate openly, clearly and respectfully about Alzheimer’s and her father, and change […]

  17. Bea ammidown says:

    Deeply impressed , respectful and inspired by you patti though beyond Alzheimer’s. True service. Thank you . Hope to return.
    An other main focus for YogAbility is caregiving yoga for caregivers . What is a mailing address , phone , email that is good.
    I recall reading a price you write about the soul & your dad, you write from your heart .
    Peace & light

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