Willy Wonka star Gene Wilder dies aged 83
2016 has claimed another legend, as Gene Wilder has died aged 83.
The beloved comedic actor was best known for his roles in The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Stir Crazy, and Blazing Saddles, which he starred in alongside David Huddleston, who also passed away this month.
Wilder’s nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman said he died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease yesterday (29.08.16) at his home in Stamford, Connecticut.
Walker-Pearlman 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 recognise those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality. 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. 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 the company of beloved ones.”
Born Jerome Silberman, Wilder was twice Oscar nominated, for his role in The Producers, and his co-writership of Young Frankenstein with Mel Brooks.
More recently, he made appearances in kids’ show Yo Gabba Gabba! as the voice of Elmer, and as Mr. Stein in Will & Grace.
Wilder is survived by his wife Karen Boyer, whom he married in 1991.