Gene Wilder, Hollywood legend dies

  • By Andreea Matei

Hollywood legend Gene Wilder dies following a secret battle with Alzheimer’s 


The star of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Gene Wilder has died aged 83 following a secret battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Gene Wilder playing Willy Wonka in 1971

Gene Wilder playing Willy Wonka in 1971


Wilder’s nephew said the actor died late on 28/08/2016 Sunday evening in Stamford, Connecticut (USA) from Alzheimer’s complications.

The often very private actor internationally best known for paying Willy Wonka was diagnosed with the disease some three years ago, but chose to keep his condition out of the media and public eye his realatives stating that he did not want to disappoint fans with the news and:

‘couldn’t bear the thought of one less smile in the world’ 

Wilder was 83 years old at the time of his death and is survived by his wife Karen Boyer. Wilder was also a longtime collaborator with director Mel Brooks, starring in such comedies as Blazing Saddles,  The Producers and Young Frankenstein.

Tributes have already flooded in for the legendary actor from far and wide. Friend and longtime collaborator Mel Brooks led the outpouring of tear-jerking emotion, testifying to the ‘magic’ that Wilder brought to the screen.

“One of the truly great talents of our time,’ Mel Brooks tweeted on Monday. ‘He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship.”

Fellow comic Jim Carrey added: “Gene Wilder was one of the funniest and sweetest energies ever to take human form. If there’s a heaven, he has a golden ticket.”

In a statement Wilder’s nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman said:

“He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.”

Referring to Wilder’s decision to keep his health problems private.

Wilder’s Willy Wonka co-stars also paid tribute, with Rusty Goffe, who played one of the Oompa Loompas, saying:

“Gene Wilder was one of the nicest, if not THE nicest actor I have ever worked with. A true star. Thank you Mr Wonka.”

Following the news of Wilder’s death the Wikipedia page for Peter Ostrum, the former child actor who played Charlie Bucket, was also edited to say he had inherited the chocolate factory his character was promised on Wonka’s death.

Gene Wilder and Peter Ostrum in 1971.

Gene Wilder and Peter Ostrum in 1971.

Wilder started his acting career on the stage, but millions knew him from his work in the movies, especially his collaborations with Mel Brooks on The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein.

In Brooks’ Young Frankenstein Wilder played a Californian born descendant of the mad scientist Dr Frankenstein, insisting that his name is pronounced ‘Frahn-ken-SHTEEN’, this humorous adaptation of the classic co-written by Brooks and Wilder himself.

With his infamous, big, unkempt hair Wilder was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in schemes that only a professional madman such as Brooks could devise, whether reviving a monster in Young Frankenstein or bilking Broadway in The Producers.

Wilder also knew how to keep it cool as the boozy gunslinger in ‘Blazing Saddles’ or the charming candy man in the children’s favorite ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.’

Wilder’s off-the-wall acting style combined with clear talent also allowed him to bring authenticity to even the craziest of roles, such as a therapist having an affair with a sheep in Woody Allen’s Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex. 

Wilder was close friends with Richard Pryor their contrasting yet symbiotic styles were ideal for comedy. The pair co-starred in four films: Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, See no Evil, Hear no Evil and Another You.

See no Evil, Hear no Evil achieving a particularly high rate of success and fandom in Europe and the UK.

The pair went on to create several infamous scenes together such as when Pryor provided Wilder with directions on how to ‘act black’ as they tried to avoid police in Silver Streak.

In 1968, Wilder received an Oscar nomination for his work in Brooks’ The Producers.

In 2012, Wilder received the first ever GOLDEN AIA award for life time contributions to entertainment.

In a decade that has seen so many greats fall, Wilder becomes another much loved soul to mourn and celebrate.