Tuesday, 30 August 2016

OBIT - GENE WILDER


A most iconic, inimitable star of the screen has departed us. Gene Wilder, one of film's most talented comic actors and writers, died yesterday, the 29th of August 2016, at age 83, due to complications from Alzheimer's, a diagnosis which he had withheld from public knowledge. Initially a Broadway and TV actor, Wilder transitioned into film with a remarkable double debut in the late 1960s: first with a small role in Bonnie and Clyde, then an Oscar-nominated, duly infamous turn in Mel Brooks' The Producers. Brooks and Wilder would go on to collaborate again on comedy classics Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, the latter of which earned Wilder a second Oscar nomination, this time for writing. Arguably as well-known as this partnership was that of Wilder and Richard Pryor, on films such as Silver Streak and See No Evil, Hear No Evil. And who could forget his most beloved performance, as Willy Wonka in 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Wilder not only acted and wrote, he has five directing credits to his name also, including The World's Greatest Lover and The Woman in Red. His acting career slowed in the '90s, having enjoyed great popularity and acclaim through the '70s and '80s, and by 2005 he had turned his attention to writing literature. Married four times, following the death of his third wife Gilda Radner, with whom he co-starred in three films, to ovarian cancer, he became an activist for cancer awareness. His only child was a stepdaughter, Katharine, from his marriage to Mary Joan Schutz. What a tragic loss, as ever it is to learn that a legend has passed.