The actor, who starred in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Young Frankenstein, dies aged 83 from complications from Alzheimer’s, family says Gene Wilder, the star of such comedy classics as The Producers and Blazing Saddles, has died. He was 83.
theguardian-Wilder’s nephew said on Monday that the actor and writer died late on Sunday in Stamford, Connecticut, from complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
“It is with indescribable sadness and blues, but with spiritual gratitude for the life lived, that I announce the passing of husband, parent, and universal artist Gene Wilder,” Jordan Walker-Pearlman, Wilder’s nephew, said in a statement.
He added that Wilder was diagnosed with the disease three years ago, but kept the condition private so as not to disappoint fans.
“He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world,” Walker-Pearlman said.
The frizzy-haired actor was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in schemes that only director Mel Brooks could devise, whether reviving a monster in Young Frankenstein or bilking Broadway in The Producers.
But he also knew how to keep it cool as the boozy gunfighter in Blazing Saddles and as the charming candy man in the children’s favorite Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
It was for that role that he was most widely known, and Wilder’s face became synonymous with the character from the Roald Dahl novel.
Willy Wonka also earned him a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy. He was nominated for an Academy Award for the 1968 classic The Producers and also for his work on the script of Young Frankenstein in 1974.
Celebrities expressed their condolences on Twitter when the news broke.
Gene Wilder will be missed! A true ICON!