By Emmaline Rogers
Adieu Mr. Gene Wilder, actor, writer, director, and artist.
Gene Wilder: actor, writer, director, and, some will say, artist. Most widely recognized for his role in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Mr. Wilder died on the 29th of August from Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed three years before his death, but he chose not to reveal it in order to not upset his younger fans. Although he never viewed himself as a comedic actor, his goal was always to make people happy. He first started creating comedic skits when his mother was diagnosed with rheumatic fever, and her doctor told him to make her laugh.
Mr. Wilder was born as Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1933 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At age 11, he showed interest in theater, and from there became a well-acclaimed actor. When he was drafted in 1956, he served as a paramedic in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania in order to stay near New York City and attend acting classes. His first professional acting job was as the Second Officer in Twelfth Night. He adopted Gene Wilder, his stage name, from Thornton Wilder, the author of Our Town, and from a book character in Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe.
Mr. Wilder had a mostly unsuccessful acting career, with his few starring roles in Young Frankenstein, which he helped write, and before that, The Producers. He acted in, directed, and wrote many other movies that were not as successful. Once, he only agreed to act in a movie if he were allowed to rewrite it. When the movie came out, critics condemned the script, only appreciating Mr. Wilder’s acting.
Mr. Wilder last performed in the television show Will and Grace in two thousand three, for which he won an Emmy. After that, he wrote several novels, but never returned to the stage. He died peacefully in his home in Stamford, Connecticut. He was 83 years old.