Beloved actor, writer, and comedian Gene Wilder has passed away from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83 years old.
Wilder was a comedy icon whose classic film appearances include Young Frankenstein, The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Stir Crazy, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. In 1984, Wilder married Saturday Night Live legend Gilda Ratner. She passed away of cancer in 1989. Though he was semi-retired from acting and out of the public eye for much of the 21st century, Wilder penned several books over the years, including the 2005 memoir Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art.
Gene Wilder occupies a special place in my heart. Those movies he did with Mel Brooks are all classics, and Young Frankenstein is one of my favorite movies of all time. He’s still Willy Wonka in my eyes, a strange eccentric, though kind in his own weird way. I still remember Wilder on an episode of Inside the Actors Studio. When asked what his least favorite word was, he replied, immediately and with barely contained heartbreak, “Cancer.” Wilder brought lasting joy to so many, and he felt so deeply for the people he loved. It’s a sad loss of one of the world’s great comic minds.
Flixist extends its condolences to Wilder’s family and loved ones. Below is the official statement from the Wilder family about Gene Wilder’s passing, as well as a few clips from his films as a remembrance of his capacity for wonderful silliness and sublime wonder.[via Variety, Clayton Sandell on Twitter]