Gene Wilder Remembered: His 5 Greatest Performances

The wild hair. The big blue eyes with a manic twinkle. Gene Wilder, star of more than 30 motion pictures including ribald comedies such as Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein and beloved children’s movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Connecticut (August 29, 2016).

Wilder was nominated for two Oscars—for best supporting actor in The Producers (1967) and for co-screenwriting Young Frankenstein with frequent collaborator Mel Brookes in 1974. In 2003, Wilder won a Primetime Emmy as guest actor for his role on Will & Grace.

Wilder was married to fellow comic actor Gilda Radner for five years until she passed away from ovarian cancer in 1989. Wilder was said to have been so devastated that he seldom worked after.

We look back at some of his most memorable performances.

TheProducersFINAL

Our favourite Wilder screen roles include The Producers (1967), where he starred alongside Zero Mostel and was nominated for an Oscar. The film has since spawned a major Broadway musical hit.

 

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Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), based on the children’s book and adapted for the screen by Roald Dahl. The movie was remade by Tim Burton and starred Johnny Depp.

Full shot of Cleavon Little as Bart offering whiskey bottle for Gene Wilder as Jim, both seated in sheriff's office. PHOTOGRAPHS TO BE USED SOLELY FOR ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, PUBLICITY OR REVIEWS OF THIS SPECIFIC MOTION PICTURE AND TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE STUDIO. NOT FOR SALE OR REDISTRIBUTION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Blazing Saddles (1974), the satirical western, was a box-office smash when it was released.

YoungFrankenstein

Young Frankenstein (1974) gave Wilder his second Academy Award nomination, this time for co-screenwriting with Mel Brooks.

WILL & GRACE -- "Sex, Losers & Videotape" Episode 19 -- Pictured: (l-r) Megan Mullally as Karen Walker, Gene Wilder as Mr. Stein -- Photo by: Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank
WILL & GRACE — “Sex, Losers & Videotape” Episode 19 — Pictured: (l-r) Megan Mullally as Karen Walker, Gene Wilder as Mr. Stein — Photo by: Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank

Will & Grace (2003) was his last on-screen role and it nabbed him a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.