Gene Wilder, known for starring in such films as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Producers, Young Frankenstein, and Blazing Saddles, has passed away at 83, as a result of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
His nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman issued a statement saying his illness “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.”
Some of the highlights of his career were as a result of his partnership with Mel Brooks.
Variety reports: “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.’”
Brooks called Wilder “one of the truly great talents of our time,” in a statement to CNN. “He blessed every film we did with his magic and he blessed me with his friendship,” Brooks said.
CNN put together a brief overview of his life and career in this video, paying tribute to some of his many memorable film moments.