Gene Wilder was possibly one of the greatest comics of the late 1960s through to the end of the 1990s. My favorite film of his was ‘The Producers’ where he played a hysterical Leo Bloom Jewish accountant who worked out you could make more money from a play that failed than one that succeeded. Staring next to Zero Mostel who played the Jewish Producer proceeded to seduce little old ladies of their savings for the production of the play.They come up with what they think is the utterly tasteless musical play purporting to be about the happy home life of a brutal dictator.
The play opens with a lavish production of the title song, "Springtime for Hitler", which celebrates Nazi Germany crushing Europe ("Springtime for Hitler and Germany/Winter for Poland and France")
This got Wilder a nomination for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Though the film was not a box office success it became a cult movie afterwards. It was converted into a huge successful Broadway play in the 2001 staring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane
I always thought he was at his best when Mel Brooks directed him who can forget Blazing Saddles (1974) or Young Frankenstein (1974). Working with Marty Feldman who played Igor (pronounced "EYE-gore" – a comic response to Wilder's claim that "it's pronounced FRONK-EN-SHTEEN").
He will always be Willie Wonka for me and remember by children of so many generations who watched the 1971 film.
He worked alongside Richard Pryor on Silver Streak (1976) and Stir Crazy (1980) two great films and two less great ones See No Evil; Hear No Evil (1989) and Another You (1991).
He contributed to writing for a number of films and secured a second nomination for an Academy Award this time for Writing Adapted Screenplay for Young Frankenstein (1974). He had less success as a director though The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975) did do well at the box office; the premise of the film was from one of Sherlock Holms novels "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans". This was based on the character of Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock Holmes' older brother, who was by both of their estimates a good deal smarter than Sherlock. He was, however, too lazy to become a detective, and did indispensable work for the British government. A character that has been resurrected in the BBC Sherlock Holmes series. In this film it focused on his ‘younger and smarter brother Sigerson of Sherlock (Sheer-Luck Holmes) continuing his work with Marty Feldman and Madeline Khan (Young Frankenstein)
In what turned out to nearly his last performance he got his only Emmy Award for Guest Star – Mr. Stein in two episodes he stared in NBCs Will and Grace in Boardroom and a Parked Place" (2002) and "Sex, Losers & Videotape" (2003).
Wilder was a supporter of the Democratic Party, and staunchly opposed U.S. actions in the Vietnam War and the Iraq War. He supported Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 presidential election.
Time to go to Amazon and order a few Gene Wilder films for this weekend and enjoy watching a comic genius at work.
Gene it is reported died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83. and if you have a moment watch the CNN video below