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Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka, WIlly Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, Mel Stuart, Letter

Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka Star, Dies At 83

Sure to be hailed as a film and comedic icon, the star of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder, died yesterday, aged 83.

”Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.”

Photo by STEVE WOOD/REX/Shutterstock

Photo by STEVE WOOD/REX/Shutterstock


In a statement, the family of the deceased actor said he died at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. It is unclear yet whether Mr Wilder died earlier this month or yesterday, Monday. Gene’s nephew stated that he died from complications stemming from Alzheimer’s disease. In 1989, the comedian and actor had also been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Two years later he married his fourth wife, Karen Boyer, whom he is now survived by. Mr Wilder had one child, Katharine Wilder, with ex-wife Mary Joan Schutz.

Stir Crazy, Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, The Producers, Bonnie and Clyde, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and Will and Grace are just a few of the famous on-screen productions Gene played a part on. He worked as an actor, a script-writer and behind the scenes as a director on projects alongside the likes of Mel Brooks and Woody Allen. The initial phase of Gene’s career came from his part in Off Broadway ‘s ‘Roots’ in 1961. ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ was also another widely recognised and praised stage play that he starred in. Wilder’s most beloved character as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, came about in 1971 based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl. Gene’s success continued over the years with the likes of Stir Crazy (1980) which made over $100 million in gross earnings.  However, he also had career lows with some of his appearances on-screen; See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Another You, for example. ‘Funny About Love’ with Richard Pryor, whom starred in Stir Crazy also, was Wilder’s last appearance in a film back in the early 90’s. His role as Mr. Stein in Will and Grace (2003) being his last appearance on television. Said role won Gene Wilder a well deserved Emmy award for the episodes he starred in.


Gene Wilder letter

A letter Gene Wilder wrote to Mel Stuart, director of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, upon seeing early sketches of his upcoming outfits and offering ‘constructive’ feedback.

Winding down his association with film, ‘Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art’ (Gene’s memoir) was published in 2005. He also published fiction, starting in 2007 with the novel ‘My French Whore’; 2008’s ‘The Woman Who Wouldn’t’; a collection of stories, ‘What Is This Thing Called Love?,’ in 2010; and the novella ‘Something to Remember You By: A Perilous Romance’ in 2013.


”Good Day Sir!” RIP Gene Wilder.





Union Times


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About Caoimhe Moynihan

Fashion Assistant & Writer originally from Ireland with a background in styling and luxury retail. Passionate about creativity and supporting emerging talent in the fashion industry. Find Caoimhe on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or over on her site 'The Simple Pleasures Blog.'

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