The Film Doctor team send our love to the family, friends and spirit of Gene Wilder, the comedy legend who played Willy Wonka, who has passed away aged 83.
His nephew – who said Gene passed away due to complications from Alzheimer’s – released a statement saying:
“We understand for all the emotional and physical challenges this situation presented we have been among the lucky ones — this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality.
“The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him “there’s Willy Wonka,” would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.
“He continued to enjoy art, music, and kissing with his leading lady of the last twenty-five years, Karen. He danced down a church aisle at a wedding as parent of the groom and ring bearer, held countless afternoon movie western marathons and delighted in the the company of beloved ones.”
Gene was a close collaborator with legendary comedy producer Mel Brooks, 90. Together they made films Young Frankenstein, The Producers, Blazing Saddles. The Producers was Gene’s first big hit movie and it earned him an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of neurotic, hanky-loving theatre producer Leo Bloom. He went on to grab another nomination for Young Frankenstein.
Gene Wilder-One of the truly great talents of our time. He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship.
— Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) 29 August 2016
Gene was also well known for his work with legendary comedian Richard Pryor, collaborating on the movies Silver Streak, Stir Crazy and See No Evil, Hear No Evil.
He grabbed an Emmy award in 2003 for a guest appearance on sitcom Will and Grace.
Here’s Gene talking about his craft a few years ago:
RIP Gene. We love you.