This one certainly hits close to home. Literally. Milwaukee, Wisconsin native, Gene Wilder, passed away on August 29th due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
Wilder began his career in 1967’s landmark crime film, Bonnie and Clyde, where he played a hostage. He got his break, and first of two Academy Award nominations, in The Producers, one of his many collaborations with director Mel Brooks alongside Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein.
Of course, most will remember Wilder as the erratic, kind, yet somewhat insane, wild-haired Willy Wonka from 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. For many, this film transcends its age and has proven as a popular childhood favorite. Nowadays, there are condescending Wonka memes and websites dedicated to trashing Charlie Bucket’s grandpa Joe. However, there’s no denying that Wilder was excellent in the title role and the film is an absolute classic.
Wilder took on his last film role in 1991 and had his last television role in 2003 on Will & Grace. Following the end of his acting career, he became a writer and released six published works.
Wilder kept his disease under wraps from the public for three years before succumbing to it. He was previously diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 1999 but announced he was in remission in 2005. All respects go to Gene Wilder’s family and friends.