Gene Wilder, the beloved actor who starred in a string of classic comedy films such as “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles,” has died. The AP reports that Wilder died late Sunday in Stamford, Conn., of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
“The frizzy-haired actor was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in schemes that only a madman such as Mel Brooks could devise, whether reviving a monster in ‘Young Frankenstein’ or bilking Broadway in ‘The Producers,'” the AP reports. “But he also knew how to keep it cool as the boozy sheriff in ‘Blazing Saddles’ and as the charming candy man in the children’s favorite ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.'”
Wilder was a two-time Oscar nominee, sharing a writing nomination with Brooks for “Young Frankenstein” in 1975 and receiving a supporting actor nod in 1969 for “The Producers.” He won a Primetime Emmy in 2003 for his guest performance on NBC’s “Will & Grace.”
He also received Golden Globe nominations for “Willy Wonka” in 1972 and “Silver Streak” in 1977.
Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee in 1933, Wilder began his career on the stage. He moved into TV in the early 1960s with appearances on drama anthologies such as “Armstrong Circle Theatre” and “The Dupont Show of the Week.”
His first film role came in 1967 when he played Eugene Grizzard in “Bonnie and Clyde.” He later starred in four movies with Richard Pryor: “Silver Streak” (1976), “Stir Crazy” (1980), “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” (1989), and “Another You” (1991).
Here’s a memorable clip of Pryor and Wilder in “Stir Crazy” …
Here’s a brief clip of Wilder in his first film role, in “Bonnie and Clyde” …