Another great actor has passed.
Gene Wilder, who played Willy Wonka in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971), has died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83.
Jordan Walker-Pearlman, the actor’s nephew, said that Wilder passed away peacefully on Sunday (28th August) and that he had lived with Alzheimer’s for the last 3 years.
“The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him ‘there’s Willy Wonka’ would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world,” the family statement continued.
Throughout his career, Wilder was a frequent collaborator of Mel Brooks and has earned several award nominations, including “Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy” at the 1976 Golden Globe Award and “Writing Adapted Screenplay” at the 1974 Academy Award. He was married to well-known comedian Gilda Radner, who died from ovarian cancer in 1989.
Upon hearing the tragic news, some of Wilder’s famous friends and the people who admired him and his work have taken to social media to mourn the actor. See their heartfelt tweets here:
Gene Wilder-One of the truly great talents of our time. He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship.
— Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) August 29, 2016
— Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) August 30, 2016
Gene Wilder was one of the funniest and sweetest energies ever to take a human form. If there's a heaven he has a Golden Ticket. ;^)
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) August 29, 2016
I saw Blazing Saddles 7 times at the cinema with my school friends . George St. Cows outside.
Gene Wilder you were a genius. Rest in Peace.
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) August 29, 2016
RIP to the legendary Gene Wilder. 2016 has been painful so far. pic.twitter.com/7nbqY7Unva
— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) August 29, 2016
Rest in peace, Gene Wilder. You’ll always be the only Willy Wonka in our hearts. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and loved ones during this difficult time.
We’ll leave you now with his most memorable Willy Wonka song, “Pure Imagination”: