‘Willy Wonka’ star Gene Wilder dead at 83
Gene Wilder, who delighted audiences with his comic turns in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” and Mel Brooks classics including “Blazing Saddles” and “The Producers,” died Monday at age 83, Variety magazine reported.
The weekly film industry journal quoted his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman as saying the actor died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Connecticut.
His agent told AFP he could not immediately confirm the report.
Wilder, whose third wife Gilda Radner died of ovarian cancer, was treated for lymphoma in 2000.
He was acclaimed for his turn as The Waco Kid in Brooks’s third film, the spoof Western and box office smash “Blazing Saddles.”
The 1974 movie shot down the myths perpetuated about the American West, pouring light on closeted racism, but it is also stacked full of gags and is often listed among critics’ top 10 comedy films.
Brooks and Wilder joined forces on the script for the director’s next film, “Young Frankenstein,” which poked fun at the Universal horror pictures of the 1930s.
Wilder co-starred with Richard Pryor in the train-murder comedy “Silver Streak” (1976) and in “Stir Crazy (1980). His last major role was in a TV film version of “Alice in Wonderland” in the late 1990s, which also starred Ben Kingsley and Martin Short.
“Gene Wilder – One of the truly great talents of our time. He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship,” Brooks said on Twitter.