The world of comedy was in mourning yesterday evening after learning that comedy legend Gene Wilder had died at the age of 83 from complications due to Alzheimer's disease. The news likely came as a surprise to fans who didn't know that he was sick. Wilder deliberately kept his illness a secret so that it might not ruin the joy of fans.
"The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn't vanity," Wilder's family said in a statement, "but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him 'there's Willy Wonka,' would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn't bear the idea of one less smile in the world."
With that in mind, here are some tributes to Wilder that should make you smile.
1. Mel Brooks
Wilder rose to fame when Mel Brooks cast the relatively unknown actor as the neurotic Leo Bloom in The Producers (1967). The two would also work together on Blazing Saddles (1974) and Young Frankenstein (1974). When news of Wilder's death broke, Brooks went on Twitter to express how blessed he felt to have had such a great collaborator and friend.
Gene Wilder-One of the truly great talents of our time. He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship.— Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) August 29, 2016
2. Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde and Veruca Salt
Wilder made his name working with Mel Brooks. But he arguably became a legend by playing Willy Wonka in the 1971 adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's novel "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Following Wilder's death, three of the child actors from the film reminisced about their experience working with the star. Maybe put this tune on while reading their thoughts.
3. Jim Carrey
The Bruce Almighty star - and apparent agnostic - suspended his disbelief to wish Wilder well on Twitter, saying that he believes Wilder is up in heaven now if such a place exists.
Gene Wilder was one of the funniest and sweetest energies ever to take a human form. If there's a heaven he has a Golden Ticket. ;^)— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) August 29, 2016
4. Kevin Smith
The Dogma director was much less sceptical than Carrey when celebrating Wilder's life on Twitter. While expressing appreciation, Smith said that Wilder would undoubtedly be reunited in the afterlife with fellow comedy legend Gilda Radner, who died in 1989.
GENE WILDER, the face of childhood joy for many a generation, has passed. Farewell, sweet genius. Gilda awaits you. https://t.co/pybXNFlGaq— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) August 29, 2016
5. James Corden
James Corden paid tribute during last night's episode by recalling when he was an emerging actor and Gene Wilder surprised him by showing up backstage after Corden finished up a play. The two kept in touch afterward, and when Corden got the nod to take over hosting CBS' The Late Late Show, he asked Wilder to stop by again. Check out why Corden was touched by Wilder's way of saying no.
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