Willy Wonka star and all-round comedy legend Gene Wilder – has passed away following complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83.
Wilder’s nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, confirmed that the stage and screen icon had died at his home in Stamford, Connecticut on Monday, August 29. Wilder had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma back in 1989. That is all the details available at this time.
In addition to landing his defining role as the title character in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder stared in many classic films such as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, The Producers, Silver Streak, and See No Evil, Here No Evil among many of his other works.
Wilder’s legacy is perhaps best surmised by his nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman:
“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.”
To Gene Wilder – the often imitated, but never duplicated, thanks for the laughs, you will be missed.