Manny P. here…
Gene Wilder was a legendary cinematic comic, who closely worked with Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor. At one time, he was also married to Gilda Radner, until ovarian cancer claimed her life. Wilder is best remembered for outstanding contributions in The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Silver Streak. He was a character actor who became a bonafide star in screen comedies.
He started taking acting classes at age 12, and continued performing and taking lessons through college. In 1961, Wilder became a member of Lee Strasberg’s prestigious Actor’s Studio in Manhattan.Wilder started his acting career on the stage. He had a part in the original Broadway production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Though they collaborated on film, Wilder and Brooks met through the theater. Wilder was in a play with Brooks’ then-future wife, Anne Bancroft, who introduced the pair backstage in 1963.
He had a small role as a hostage in the 1967 classic Bonnie and Clyde.In 1968, Wilder received an Oscar nomination for his work in Brooks’ The Producers. He played the introverted accountant, Leo Bloom. Gene accepted the role of the Waco Kid on Blazing Saddles after Gig Young was fired by Brooks for intoxication. He and Brooks also lost Best Adapted Screenplay for Young Frankenstein to Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo for The Godfather II. His film catalog included Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Younger Brother, Start the Revolution Without Me, Hanky Panky, Stir Crazy, See No Evil Hear No Evil, The Woman in Red, and Haunted Honeymoon. Though his forte was cinema, he also appeared on the small screen. Gene made his screen debut in the series Armstrong Circle Theatre in 1962. He won an Emmy Award for guest-starring on Will & Grace.
After Radner died in 1989, Wilder spent much of his time after promoting cancer research and opened a support facility for cancer patients. In 1991, he testified before Congress about the need for increased testing for cancer.
This weekend, AMC Theatres will screen Willie Wonka and Blazing Saddles at 55 participating venues, nationwide. The ticket is priced at a sensible $5. Location information is available at the AMC website. Also, in Southern California at select ArcLight Cinema locations on Saturday and Sunday, they are showing special screenings. All proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. Turner Classic Movies will honor the iconic funnyman next month. Here’s the lineup:
A comedic master, Gene Wilder was 83.
Until next time> “never forget”