Simply devastating. Legendary actor Gene Wilder sadly passed away on Aug. 29, and we’re still in shock from the news. Of course he was most famous for playing the original Willy Wonka, but there’s so much more to know about this icon! Learn five facts about him, right here.
1. He’s been in 87 movies and TV shows. Of course Gene Wilder was in Willy Wonka, but he has also been in tons of plays, Mel Brooks comedies, and TV shows. His repertoire includes a bevy of different types of work, including a children’s show movie Yo Gabba Gabba in 2015. Plus, he’s portrayed himself in dozens of other projects.
2. “Gene Wilder” is an alias. Though we all know and love him as Gene, his real birth name was Jerome Silberman. He chose to change his public name at age 26, explaining “I had always liked Gene because of Thomas Wolfe’s character Eugene Gant in Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River. And I was always a great admirer of Thornton Wilder.” So cool!
3. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, Gene’s Aug. 29 death was attributed to “complications” with the Alzheimer’s disease he had been dealing with.
4. It was Gene’s idea for Willy Wonka to first come out with a cane. Gene insisted that Willy come out and address the public with a cane, before somersaulting to show he’s healthy. When director Mel Stuart asked why, Wilder said “because from that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth.”
5. He hated showbiz. Alec Baldwin interviewed Gene, and he said that he was essentially retired from acting, and it’s all because he hated the industry side of things. “I don’t like show business, I realized,” he explained. “I like show, but I don’t like the business.” What a gem! Rest in peace, Gene!
HollywoodLifers, what was your favorite film featuring Gene Wilder? Share your thoughts with us!