On August 29, 2016, the world lost a wonderful man by the name of Gene Wilder, a man who happens to be one of my personal heroes. To celebrate Wilder’s life, PopHorror has put together some facts about him that you might not have known.
Gene Wilder born on June 11, 1933, under the name Jerome Silberman. Wilder first discovered his talent for comedy when his mother became sick and the doctor told him to make her laugh. Later on in his life, Wilder found himself the star of many comedies, such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, Sliver Streak, See No Evil Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy, and the horror comedy Young Frankenstein, just to name a few. I just recently finished his biography, Kiss Me Like A Stranger: My Search For Love and Art, where Wilder talks about personal struggles he’s gone through, such as OCD and losing both friends and family to death. He also talked about his late wife, Gilda Radner, who passed away after a struggle with ovarian cancer.
So without further ado, here are some interesting facts you might not know about the lovable Gene Wilder.
1) His first performance was as Balthazar in a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
2) Along with Mel Brooks, he co-created and co-wrote the screenplay for Young Frankenstein.
3) He directed and wrote the following films: The Women In Red, Haunted Honeymoon, and The Adventure Of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother. He also helped write See No Evil Hear No Evil.
4) Following Gilda’s death, he became active in promoting cancer awareness and treatment helping found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles. He also co-founding Gilda’s Club, a supportive group to raise awareness of cancer that began in New York City and now branches throughout the country.
5) Wilder hid his Alzheimer’s to protect the children. His death was a bit of a surprise because most people were unaware of his illness outside his family. His nephew explained in a statement:
“The disclosure to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that countless young children that would smile or call out, “There’s Willy Wonka!” wouldn’t have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble… he simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.”
Gene Wilder will always be missed and will always have a place in my heart personally. He always found a way to make his audience laugh even on the gloomy days, whether it was watching one of his comedies like Silver Streak or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or Young Frankenstein. We hope you enjoyed this article on remembering Gene Wilder, a man who knew how to make everyone laugh.