Gene Wilder (born Jerome Silberman; June 11, 1933 – August 29, 2016) was an American actor, director, screenwriter, producer, singer-songwriter and author.
Wilder began his career on stage, and made his screen debut in an episode of the TV series The Play of the Week in 1961. Although his first film role was portraying a hostage in the 1967 motion picture Bonnie and Clyde, Wilder’s first major role was as Leopold Bloom in the 1967 film The Producers for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. This was the first in a series of collaborations with writer/director Mel Brooks, including 1974’s Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, which Wilder co-wrote, garnering the pair an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Wilder is known for his iconic portrayal of Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) and for his four films with Richard Pryor: Silver Streak (1976), Stir Crazy (1980), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989), and Another You (1991), as well as starring in Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972). Wilder directed and wrote several of his own films, including The Woman in Red (1984).
With his third wife, Gilda Radner, he starred in three films, the last two of which he also directed. Her 1989 death from ovarian cancer led to his active involvement in promoting cancer awareness and treatment, helping found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles and co-founding Gilda’s Club.
After his last acting performance in 2003 – a guest role on Will & Grace for which he received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor – Wilder turned his attention to writing. He produced a memoir in 2005, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art; a collection of stories, What Is This Thing Called Love? (2010); and the novels My French Whore (2007), The Woman Who Wouldn’t (2008), and Something to Remember You By (2013).
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Birth Place: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA on 1933-06-11
Known For: Acting
TOP FIVE ROLES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Eccentric candy man Willy Wonka prompts a worldwide frenzy when he announces that golden tickets hidden inside five of his delicious candy bars will admit their lucky holders into his top-secret confectionary. But does Wonka have an agenda hidden amid a world of Oompa Loompas and chocolate rivers?
Release Date: 1971-06-29
Role: Willy Wonka
A young neurosurgeon inherits the castle of his grandfather, the famous Dr. Victor von Frankenstein. In the castle he finds a funny hunchback, a pretty lab assistant and the elderly housekeeper. Young Frankenstein believes that the work of his grandfather was delusional, but when he discovers the book where the mad doctor described his reanimation experiment, he suddenly changes his mind.
Release Date: 1974-12-15
Role: Frederick Frankenstein
Making Frankensense of Young Frankenstein
Via reminiscences from writer/actor Gene Wilder and others, this documentary recalls the making of the 1974 film Young Frankenstein.
Release Date: 1996-01-01
New Yorkers, Skip Donahue and Harry Monroe have no jobs and no prospects, so they decide to flee the city and find work elsewhere, landing jobs wearing woodpecker costumes to promote the opening of a bank. When their feathery costumes are stolen and used in a bank robbery, they no longer have to worry about employment—they’re sent to prison.
Release Date: 1980-12-12
Role: Skip Donahue
The Woman in Red
When a happily married family man, who would never consider an affair, meets a beautiful woman in red, he is totally infatuated and desperate to make her acquaintance. However, as he tries out various schemes to sneak out to meet her, he realizes that adultery is not quite as easy as it looks.
Release Date: 1984-08-15
Role: Teddy Pierce