Written by John Squires
Legends never truly die, which is the only comfort we can provide at a time like this. At the age of 83, we’re very sad to report that Gene Wilder has passed away.
Born Jerome Silberman in June of 1933, the man known the world over as Gene Wilder first came into the public eye courtesy of The Producers, earning himself an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. It was the first of many collaborations with Mel Brooks, which most memorably included Blazing Saddles and, of course, Young Frankenstein. In addition to starring, Wilder co-wrote the Universal horror spoof with Brooks, the duo securing an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
But it was the titular role in 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that solidified Gene Wilder as one of the great film icons of all time. One of the most iconic and beloved performances in film history, Wilder’s nuanced Wonka earned him a much-deserved Golden Globe nomination, the classic film making him a household name and ensuring his legacy as a true acting legend.
In the wake of Young Frankenstein, Wilder’s acting was sporadic, and he appeared in only a handful of films before his retirement in the late 1990s. On the horror front, Wilder starred in the 1986 horror-comedy Haunted Honeymoon, and his final film appearance was in the 1999 thriller The Lady in Question.
Wilder, who spent his final years as a writer, died Sunday from complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
“Gene Wilder-One of the truly great talents of our time,” tweeted Mel Brooks. “He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship.”