Legendary actor Gene Wilder has died.
Gene Wilder, who most will remember for his comedy roles in ‘The Producers’, ‘Blazing Saddles’, ‘Young Frankenstein’, ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Stir Crazy’ has died today at his home in Stamford, Connecticut.
It’s believed that he died of complications due to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Wilder’s nephew said in a statement: “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 83-year-old comedy icon was a frequent collaborator of writer and director, Mel Brooks, and became a household name as Roald Dahl’s fantastical chocolatier, Willy Wonka.
Wilder’s nephew revealed that he wanted to keep his condition a secret.
The reason? He never wanted is fans to stop smiling.
“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.”
Of course, Gene Wilder was more than a mere actor - he was a legend and an inspiration to many in the film business. His antics continue to put a smile on faces across the globe.
“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 company of beloved ones.”
He is survived by his fourth wife Karen Boyer, and his nephew.
Gene Wilder died today aged 83. He will be sorely missed.