2016 continues to take away the greats from us, with the beloved actor Gene Wilder passing from Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. He was 83 years old.
For many kids, Wilder captured our “pure imagination” in a way we’ll never forget with the beloved 1971 classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He also will be remembered for his roles in fellow classics such as The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles and Stir Crazy. Wilder worked his way into the hearts of millions with his ability to portray manic hysteria one minute, and then a quiet tenderness the next – the memorable final scenes of Willy Wonka demonstrating both in one impressive sitting.
Unfortunately, Wilder went mostly missing from the public eye after the tragic loss of his beloved wife Gilda Radner in 1989, popping up for several TV appearances, including two episodes of Will & Grace. It’s a shame we never got more from Wilder in his later years, but no one can blame the man for not wanting anything to do with the spotlight after all he went through.
We have tons of his great films to look back upon, and treasure always. Be sure to remember to put on your favorite Gene Wilder film tonight, and remember what made this man a once in a lifetime talent.