Nine Unforgettable Films From The Late, Great Gene Wilder

One of the funniest people who ever lived is no longer with us: Gene Wilder, the beloved comedian and star of hit comedies like The Producers, Young Frankenstein and Silver Streak, has died at the age of 83 from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1933 and after a stint in the Army took to the stage, performing with Anne Bancroft in 1963’s Mother Courage and Her Children, and encountering her boyfriend Mel Brooks as a result. They would form a working relationship that would result in three hit comedies and multiple Oscar nominations. 

Indeed, the bulk of Wilder’s most famous roles were for a relatively smaller number of films, most of them in collaboration with either Mel Brooks or his frequent co-star Richard Pryor (who was originally slated to star in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, before being replaced by Cleavon Little). But children usually recognize Wilder from his performance as the saintly/maniacal candy entrepreneur Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Wilder worked consistently in the 1970s and 1980s, but after the death of his third wife, comedian Gilda Radner, in 1989, he chose to work less frequently. He starred in a short-lived sitcom called Something Wilder in 1994, and earned an Emmy Award for his guest-starring role in the hit sitcom Will & Grace. Wilder also wrote a memoir, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art, and three novels: The French WhoreThe Woman Who Wouldn’t and Something to Remember You By: A Perilous Romance.

Gene Wilder is survived by his fourth wife, Karen Boyer, to whom he had been married for 25 years. Our hearts go out to his friends and family. Gene Wilder was one of the great comedians, a powder keg of manic energy, held carefully in place by a disarmingly sweet demeanor. Wilder leaves behind him a series of wonderful films that have, in their own ways, made the world a more wonderful and enjoyable place. We would like to take a moment now to look back at nine of the Gene Wilder movie that we will never, ever forget, and which will keep his memory alive for generations to come.

The Unforgettable Films of Gene Wilder:

Top Photo: 20th Century Fox

William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most CravedRapid Reviews and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.