Gene Wilder has died

Listen to this article

One of America’s great comedic actors, Gene Wilder, has passed away.

Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in “Stir Crazy”
Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in “Stir Crazy”

Known for his roles in the Mel Brooks films, The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, he also brought Willy Wonka to life in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

He was also in four “buddy” movies with another comedic genius, Richard Pryor: Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Another You. Stir Crazy was directed by Sidney Poitier and it became one of the best comedic films of all time.

His list of film and television credits is long, beginning in 1962 when he appeared on the Armstrong Circle Theater and then in 1968 when he briefly appeared in Bonnie and Clyde as a hostage. He was also in Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex.

He wrote and directed several of his movies, including The Woman in Red and Haunted Honeymoon, and shared writing credits on several films with Brooks and Pryor.

Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner (Wikipedia)
Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner (Wikipedia)

For television he was on The Electric Company and Will and Grace, among others.

Wilder was born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1933 in Milwaukee, WI. and graduated from Washington High School. He went to college at the University of Iowa. Wilder was married four times. His third marriage was to Gilda Radner, an original cast member of Saturday Night Live,  from 1984 to 1989, when she died from Ovarian Cancer. Afterwards Wilder became a leading voice for cancer awareness and started foundations devoted to awareness and research in Radner’s name.

Writing was a passion for Wilder; he wrote five books by himself and co-wrote his first book, about Radner, with M. Steven Piver.

From Young Frankenstein
From Young Frankenstein

Before his film career took off Wilder appeared on stage in Mother Courage and Her Children, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and other productions.

A quiet man off screen, Gene Wilder lived in Stamford, Connecticut with his wife Karen Webb, where he died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. he was 83 years old.

All photos are YouTube screenshots unless otherwise noted.
Top photo is from a 92nd Street Y production. with Robert Osgood.