It’s always something… It is with broken hearts we report gifted actor and writer Gene Wilder has died due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease, at the age of 83. Yes, we’re thinking what you’re thinking. Gene is with Gilda, now. May they rest in peace, together.
Wilder mostly worked in features, but he did headline the Something Wilder TV show. This sitcom aired 18 episodes, before being cancelled by NBC in 1995. Wilder was famously married to SNL alum Gilda Radner, who died far too soon, at the age of 42, due to ovarian cancer. Despite a subsequent marriage, Wilder remained a dedicated advocate for a cure.
Mr. Wilder is perhaps best known for playing Willie Wonka in the scrumdidilyumptious feature film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, as well as Dr. Frankenstein in the Young Frankenstein movie. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Johnny Depp.
Here is more from The New York Times:
Gene Wilder, who established himself as one of America’s foremost comic actors with his delightfully neurotic performances in three films directed by Mel Brooks; his eccentric star turn in the family classic “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”; and his winning chemistry with Richard Pryor in the box-office smash “Stir Crazy,” died early Monday morning at his home in Stamford, Conn. He was 83.
A nephew, the filmmaker Jordan Walker-Pearlman, confirmed his death in a statement, saying the cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
Mr. Wilder’s rule for comedy was simple: Don’t try to make it funny; try to make it real. “I’m an actor, not a clown,” he said more than once.
With his haunted blue eyes and an empathy born of his own history of psychic distress, he aspired to touch audiences much as Charlie Chaplin had. The Chaplin film “City Lights,” he said, had “made the biggest impression on me as an actor; it was funny, then sad, then both at the same time.”
Mr. Wilder was an accomplished stage actor as well as a screenwriter, a novelist and the director of four movies in which he starred. (He directed, he once said, “in order to protect what I wrote, which I wrote in order to act.”) But he was best known for playing roles on the big screen that might have been ripped from the pages of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
He made his movie debut in 1967 in Arthur Penn’s celebrated crime drama, “Bonnie and Clyde,” in which he was memorably hysterical as an undertaker kidnapped by the notorious Depression-era bank robbers played by Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. He was even more hysterical, and even more memorable, a year later in “The Producers,” the first film by Mr. Brooks, who turned it into a Broadway hit.
Mr. Wilder played the security-blanket-clutching accountant Leo Bloom, who discovers how to make more money on a bad Broadway show than on a good one: Find rich backers, stage a production that’s guaranteed to fold fast, then flee the country with the leftover cash. Unhappily for Bloom and his fellow schemer, Max Bialystock, played by Zero Mostel, their outrageously tasteless musical, “Springtime for Hitler,” is a sensation.
Watch this official trailer for the 1967 release of The Producers feature film.
Honestly? This reporter cannot stop crying.