- Date of Birth:
- June 11, 1933
- 5' 10"
Gene Wilder (born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1933 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) was an American actor, director, author and director. Gene began his life in comedy at age 8, when he would entertain his sick mother by making her laugh. He began studying acting professionally at age 13. When he was 15, he made his stage debut in a production of Romeo and Juliet. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1955 and was drafted into the Army in 1956. After serving, he moved to New York City, enrolling at the HB Studio before he was accepted into the Actor’s Studio. He performed in many off-Broadway productions, which led him to meet to Mel Brooks. Mel cast Gene in his first leading role of Leo Bloom in 1968’s The Producers. His role earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Gene would work with Mel again on Young Frankenstein, which Gene co-wrote, but his signature role would be that of Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Gene also starred alongside Richard Pryor in Silver Streak, See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Another You. In the early 2000s, he guest-starred in two episodes of Will & Grace, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor. After that, Gene semi-retired, focusing on writing, painting and working with charities. On Aug. 29, he passed away due complications from Alzheimer’s disease
Best Known For:
Gene Wilder was best known as an actor, starring in movies like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Young Frankenstein and The Producers.
Gene took his stage name from Thomas Wolfe’s character Eugene Grant and writer Thorton Wilder. Gene married his first wife, Mary Mercier, in 1960 and divorced in 1965. He dated Mary Joan Schutz and they wed in 1967. They divorced in 1974. In 1981, Gene met Gilda Radner while filming Hanky Panky. The two were married in 1984. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986 and passed away in 1989. After her death, Gene became active in promoting cancer awareness and treatment. He reconnected with an old flame, Karen Webb, after Gilda’s death and they were married in 1991.