Gene Wilder, the star of comedy classics as Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles but most known for his immortal role as Willy Wonka in in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, has died at the age of 83.
We understand for all the emotional and physical challenges this situation presented we have been among the lucky ones — this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality. 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.
Though many remember him for his madcap roles in Mel Brooks comedies, most have immortalised him as the character of Willy Wonka – the charming, mysterious candy man of the Roald Dahl novel. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t have Wilder’s Willy Wonka embedded into their memory forever.
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