Gene Wilder, who brought a wild-eyed desperation to a series of memorable and iconic comedy roles in the 1970s and 1980s, has died, his lawyer, Eric Weissmann, said.
He was 83.
Wilder is best known for his collaborations with director Mel Brooks, starring as the stressed-out Leo Bloom in Brooks’ breakout 1967 film “The Producers” and later in the monster movie spoof “Young Frankenstein.” He also portrayed a boozing gunslinger in “Blazing Saddles.”
But for many people, Wilder might be best remembered for “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” playing the mysterious candy tycoon in the 1971 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book.
Wilder continued to star in numerous comedies, with less consistent success. That included a pair of films with Richard Pryor, “Stir Crazy” and “Silver Streak,” as well as solo vehicles like “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother” and “The World’s Greatest Lover,” which he also directed.
In a 2005 interview with CNN, Wilder discussed how he met Brooks, having been cast in a play opposite the director’s then-girlfriend, Anne Bancroft.
“That led to ‘The Producers’ and ‘Blazing Saddles’ and ‘Young Frankenstein,’ but because I was miscast in a play,” Wilder said. “And it changed my life.”
The Cast of Willy Wonka Reunites 44 Years Later (November 11, 2015)
It’s been 44 years since Willy Wonka first hit theaters in 1971, and although we as viewers feel lucky to have experienced the film, it’s the cast of kids?some of them grandparents now!?
From the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic novel who really feel like they’ve been blessed. Sitting down with the Today show, Peter Ostrum (Charlie Buckets), Paris Themmen (Mike Teavee), Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt), Rusty Goffe, Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregarde) and Michael Bollner (Augustus Gloop) couldn’t help but gush about being part of the film and how they’re all still connected by it. One thing they all remember fondly is working with the great Gene Wilder, who never seemed to grow tired of them.
“Five kids clambering all over you, wanting his attention,” Cole recalls of filming with him. “There was never any, ?
Please don’t bother Mr. Wilder.’ And we must have been pretty tiresome.”