Monday, August 29, 2016

I hate to end the day on such a sad note, but when genius like this passes it deserves our attention. Gene Wilder 1933-2016.

Courtesy of Variety: 

Gene Wilder, who regularly stole the show in such comedic gems as “The Producers,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Stir Crazy,” died Monday at his home in Stamford, Conn. His nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman said he died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83. 

His 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 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.”

He had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1989.

He had that impossible to tame mane of hair.

That is what I always used to notice about Gene Wilder in the movies.

 Of course that was only AFTER I noticed that he was a comedic genius. 

The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silver Streak, The Frisco Kid, Stir Crazy, that is not just a list of the films that Gene Wilder made, that is a list of some of the greatest comedies ever made.

As well as a list of some of my all time favorite movies. 

I remember that the hardest I EVER laughed in my life was in 1974 while watching Young Frankenstein with my best friend at the time. That movie was clearly created to make fourteen year old boys laugh until they peed their pants, and I watched some of it while sitting on the floor after falling out of my seat doubled over with laughter.

At that moment I became a Gene Wilder fan forever.

And then of course there was this.

I can't even count the number of times that I sat and watched Gene Wilder's performance as Willie Wonka with my little girl.

"Come with me 
and you'll be 
in a world 
of pure imagination.

Take a look
and you'll see 
into your imagination.

We'll begin 
with a spin 
traveling in
the world of my creation 

What we'll see
will defy


But sadly even magic cannot live forever.

But then again since his magic is preserved in these amazing movies, perhaps it can. 


  1. Anonymous4:04 PM

    Being a child of the 70's and loving both him and his wife Gilda Radner I am very touched by this news. It was so sad that Gilda preceded him in death because he always called her his soul mate even if he remarried after she passed.

    He was such a part of my childhood and led to my comedic outlook on life, and fuck you Johnny Depp and your shitty remake of The Chocolate Factory, you were no Gene Wilder

    1. Anonymous6:53 PM

      History separates the wheat from the chaff and Gene Wilder's Wonka will last much longer than Depp's. Depp' entire movie seemed to have a streak of mean spiritedness running through it. The Tim Burton touch.

  2. Anonymous4:09 PM

    I was talking about "Willie Wonka" over the week-end with my grandchildren and how depressing the Depp remake was (before I knew he had passed away.) Gene Wilder was Willie Wonka.
    Strange - today as I saw interviews about him and thought of him and his incredible history - I smiled and was appreciative of the smiles on the people doing the interviews. He was that kind of person. Yes - he is gone but the mere thought of him brings a smile. What a legacy.

    Pat Padrnos

    1. Anonymous7:18 PM

  3. Anonymous4:12 PM

    He's with his truest love now, Gilda.

  4. Anonymous4:15 PM

    I am so sad he's gone. What a wonderful, kind, lovable,and talented man! RIP, Gene! I hope you are hugging your beloved Gilda right this minute!

  5. Anonymous4:26 PM

    Johnny Depp is just an overall scumbag anyway. He could never hold a candle to Wilder.

    1. Anonymous5:39 PM

      I remember Johnny when he was introduced in the original "21 Jump Street" TV. Now he's a freak, like Bieber. Gene Wilder is legend. Never let the fame go to head, kept to his craft.

  6. Anonymous4:35 PM

    Wanted to say it almost makes one want to believe in an afterlife if he and Gilda could be reunited.

  7. Anonymous4:45 PM

    Many, like myself, will go on quoting Gene Wilder lines for years to come. He will make us smile again and again.

  8. Randall4:54 PM

    Silver Streak.

  9. There is a Mark Twain quote that suits perfectly : Endeavor to live so that when you die even the undertaker is sorry.

  10. Anonymous5:41 PM

    Holy shit. Non hodgekins is serious and usually takes a person within 2 years or so. A good college friend died from it when be was 25.

    This man was truly a genius. His wonka and depps wonka are both good just different.

    I was sad to learn this upon waking today.

    I'm going to go watch blazing saddles.

  11. Anonymous5:56 PM

    OMG! Young Frankenstein is an all time favorite! We watch it on Halloween every year!

  12. Anonymous7:26 PM

    I went to see Young Frankenstein on my first date with my husband. We laughed so hard we had tears running down our face. I've always said that night set the stage for our marriage. Thank you Gene Wilder, RIP.

  13. Anonymous9:34 PM

    So much real talent leaving us. We're left with producer-driven talent shows where audience vote doesn't matter.

    I met someone yesterday who swore up and down The Voice is authentic. Um, nope. My ex worked on it as a producer. Made 100k. Fully fake, like dwts, Idol, any show with "votes."

    Whoever makes it to the top 4 makes it because producers want them there.

  14. Anonymous9:37 PM

    He was not only funny, he emanated a sweetness that you knew was real. He was so adorable, you just wanted to mother him, but he was sexy in his sweetness. What is not to love?

  15. Anonymous9:45 PM

    That is such a great photo of him -- he never looked so handsome! I remember him with Gilda, and I think of them both whenever I hear anything about ovarian cancer. They did so much to bring the issue to national attention. I wasn't sure he'd survive after he lost her, but he lived a good, long life.

    1. Anonymous11:17 PM

      I think of Madeleine Kahn from Blazing Saddles, also dying of ovarian cancer. Two women in his life, taken by the same tragedy.

  16. WA Skeptic11:19 PM

    Too hard to make a choice; Silver Streak, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, The Producer. I laughed like a loon at all these classics.

    He will be sadly missed, but his genius lives on in his films.

  17. My favorite Gene Wilder lines are from The Frisco Kid (1979)...

    Avram: [Trying to catch a wild 'chicken'] Chicken, chicken, chicken! Chickie-chickie-chickie-chicken! Come here,


    Avram: I don't want to hurt you, I just want to eat you.

    [repeats in Yiddish, 'chicken' flies away]

    Avram: Come here, wait! I don't want to hurt you! I just want to make you kosher!

  18. Anonymous3:26 AM

    "You get nothing!! You lose!! Good day Sir!!"
    ~Willy Wonka~

  19. Anonymous3:30 AM

    Another one of my favorite Wilder roles when he played the psychiatrist Dr. Ross (here checking into a hotel accompanied by a sheep) in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask.

  20. Anonymous3:41 PM

    Reminds us all how fleeting life can be. I picture him with Gilda walking hand in hand. RIP to one who brought so much joy to the world with your talent.


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