Legendary Comedian Gene Wilder Dead at 83
Gene Wilder, the star of classic movies Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Young Frankenstein, and Blazing Saddles, has died at the age of 83.
The reclusive Hollywood legend, who was married to comedienne Gilda Radner from 1984 until her death in 1989, died earlier this month in Stamford, Connecticut from complications linked to Alzheimer’s disease, but news of his passing was not released by the family until Monday.
Wilder mastered kooky, manic characters, like chocolate factory boss Willy Wonka in Mel Stuart’s beloved 1971 movie adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, and eccentric monster maker Dr. Frankenstein in Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein. He teamed up with Brooks again for 1974’s cult comedy western Blazing Saddles.
The actor started out in show business in a series of TV plays in the early 1960s, before landing the role of Eugene Grizzard in 1967’s Bonnie & Clyde. That role led to his first collaboration with Brooks, as Leo Bloom in The Producers.
His list of film credits also included starring roles in The Frisco Kid, and The Woman in Red. He also teamed up with fellow comic Richard Pryor for three big hits, Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, and See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and worked with his wife Radner on the 1986 comedy Haunted Honeymoon.
Following a run of cinema hits in the 1980s, Wilder became a virtual recluse in Hollywood and only appeared in period TV series, including his own show, Something Wilder, in the mid-1990s and Will & Grace in 2002.
Wilder married Karen Boyer in 1991. He is survived by a daughter, Katharine, who he adopted in 1967 when he married her mother Mary Joan Schute.