Acclaimed actor Gene Wilder charmed us in movies like Blazing Saddles, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Young Frankenstein. Wilder had an extensive film career that included several collaborations with Mel Brooks. He was also an accomplished stage actor, voiceover artist, writer, and director.
The comic actor, who was twice Oscar nominated, for his role in “The Producers” and for co-penning “Young Frankenstein” with Mel Brooks, usually portrayed a neurotic who veered between total hysteria and dewy-eyed tenderness. “My quiet exterior used to be a mask for hysteria,” he told Time magazine in 1970. “After seven years of analysis, it just became a habit.”
Habit or not, he got a great deal of mileage out of his persona in the 1970s for directors like Mel Brooks and Woody Allen, leading to a few less successful stints behind the camera, the best of which was “The Woman in Red,” co-starring then-wife Gilda Radner. Wilder was devastated by Radner’s death from ovarian cancer in 1989 and worked only intermittently after that. He tried his hand briefly at a sitcom in 1994, “Something Wilder,” and won an Emmy in 2003 for a guest role on “Will & Grace.”
Wilder also did a lot of charity work to raise funds for cancer research after Radner’s death in 1989. He worked only intermittently after that, and hardly at all after Will and Grace in 2003. Wilder was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease, which he and his family decided not to disclose to the public because so many children saw him as Willie Wonka, and he didn’t want knowledge of his condition to infringe on the joy of such an encounter. He passed away today at his home from complications the disease. Gene Wilder was 83.