Gene Wilder - Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory In today's media-driven climate, it's pretty common to review a person's life as soon as they've passed away. None more so than in the case of the late, great, Gene Wilder, the actor-comedian who tragically succumbed to complications of Alzheimer's disease, on the 29th of August, 2016. He was 83 years young.

But the thing is, what can anyone say about a man who gave so much and asked for so little? Obviously, we could go over the usual fundamentals that you can find on any obituary, such as his real name (Jerome Silberman), when he was born (the 11th of June, 1933), where he grew up (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), as well as his religion (Jewish). But apart from that, dear reader, what else is there for us to say?

Gene Wilder - Young FrankensteinNow I must admit, a small part of me could explain how he taught me the value of protecting blue blankets, especially after watching him in the Mel Brookes classic, 'The Producers'. Another part of me could also say that it's pronounced, Frunk-Ern-Steeen, referring to what he relayed in another film he did with Mel, called -- yes, you guessed it -- 'Young Frankenstein'. Plus, while we're on the subject of the Brookes / Wilder partnership, 'Blazing Saddles', what can we possibly learn from this hilarious comedy-western? Don't eat beans with cowboys? Drunks can shoot straight when sober? Or how about, kids, particularly cowboy-kids, aren't always necessarily children?

Then there are those films he made with Richard Prior, films which showed us how a white man can't act black (Silver Streak), how it's possible to break out of prison during a rodeo show (Stir Crazy), and let's not forget, holding a woman at bay with your shrouded erection (See No Evil, Hear No Evil).

Gene Wilder - Richard PriorAll that, and I haven't even gotten around to talking about how he fell in love with a sheep in the Woody Allen film, 'Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex* (But was afraid to ask)', or better yet, his role in the original film version of 'Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory'!

I mean, did you know that Gene said he would only take the role if he was allowed to go limp, and then suddenly do a somersault, in that scene where he first meets the children? When the director asked why he would want to do this, he said, "from that time on, no one will know if Willy is lying or telling the truth". That's a nice little psychological twist, isn't it?

Anyway, that's enough of me and my yadda-yadda-yadda. Gene was a great actor and a brilliant comedian, and for most of us who grew up watching him on the big screen, I'm sure he'll be missed, but never forgotten. Gene, you're a star, and I'm hoping that you have a great time in heaven with the rest of your co-stars: Zero Mostel, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Richard Pryor, Cleavon Little, Harvey Korman, plus, many-many more. Rest in Peace, Mister Bloom, you surely deserve it.

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THE GENE WILDER LEGACY THE GENE WILDER LEGACY Reviewed by David Andrews on September 26, 2016 Rating: 5

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