Two weeks ago Heston, 78, and his family had their worst fears confirmed: Doctors diagnosed the Oscar winner and National Rifle Association president with early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. A few days later Heston revealed his condition in a videotaped statement. "I am neither giving up nor giving in," he said. "But it's a fight I must someday call a draw."
At home in L.A. with his wife of 58 years, Lydia, 79, Heston is "in excellent spirits," says Fraser, 47. "Dad has the sort of positive resolution, fortitude and courage that I would expect from him." Former President Ronald Reagan's wife, Nancy, who has cared for her 91-year-old Alzheimer's-stricken husband since '94, was the first friend to call. Says Fraser: "My parents were really moved."
The avid swimmer and tennis player plans to serve out his NRA term (ending next spring) and keep acting as long he is able. "They're very strong people," friend Tony Makris says of Heston and Lydia. "They'll greet this the same way they greet everything else—holding hands, their heads held high."