Gene Wilder, a comedic legend with over a dozen leading roles in just as many iconic comedies, passed away this week at the age of 83. Wilder was the star of “Blazing Saddles,” and “Young Frankenstein,” and he made “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” an instant classic. He was a frequent star in some of the best comedies of the 70’s and 80s, and was frequently seen with his friends on-screen. According to reports, Wilder died in his home in Stamford, Connecticut. The news was confirmed by Wilder’s nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, who said he had passed from complications with Alzheimer’s disease.
Wilder was an Oscar nominated actor, he earned the title for his role in “The Producers,” and he got one nomination from co-writing “Young Frankenstein” with Mel Brooks. Wilder was born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to a self-employed Russian-Jewish immigrant father, and his mother was of Russian Jewish descent. Wilder had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1989.
Wilder often appeared in films with his friends and former co-stars. Alongside Mel Brooks, Wilder appeared in numerous films with the great Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman and Richard Pryor. A talented actor, Wilder also directed numerous films, including the popular “The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother,” “The Woman in Red,” and “The World’s Greatest Lover”. Wilder’s latest work was on “Will and Grace,” where he played the role of Mr. Stein. His work on the series earned him an Emmy. Wilder also wrote several best-sellers, including “Kiss Me Like A Stranger: My Search for Love and Art,” “My French Whore” “Something to Remember You By: A Perilous Romance,” “The Woman Who Wouldn’t” and “What Is This Thing Called Love?”.
The great actor was married four times, first to Mary Mercier, then to Mary Joan Schutz, then to Gilda Radner, and then to Karen Boyer. Wilder is survived by his wife Karen Boyer and his nephew.