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Lewis Jefferies

A Fascinating Look Back At Gene Wilder's Magical Onscreen Roles

On August 29th, 2016 news hit the world that the famous film legend, Gene Wilder had passed away aged 83. Gene Wilder, born Jerome Silberman was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the United States. He studied at Washington High School and then went onto studying at the University of Iowa. After finishing his studying, he went onto becoming a magnificent actor, screenwriter and author. Below is an insight on Wilder's top film roles and shows how wonderfully he portrayed his roles.

Gene Wilder Working Onstage And Television

Wilder began his professional debut in the Off Broadway's Roots back in 1961. This was then promptly followed by a stint on Broadway in a comedy by Graham Greene titled The Complaisant Lover. Starring in this earned Wilder a Clarence Derwent Award for "Promising Newcomer." Then in 1963, he starred in Brecht's production Mother Courage, which Mel Brooks had noticed Gene Wilder's outstanding acting throughout the production. Meeting Mel Brooks led to some of Gene Wilder's most anticipated and successful film work. Despite being close to Mel Brooks, Wilder had decided he wanted to continue to work onstage in the 1963 production One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, then Dynamite Tonight and The White House the following year.

During 1962, Wilder went onto working in the television industry. He decided to work on the television series The Sound of Hunting, The Interrogators and Windfall. Then in 1966, he worked on the television production Death of a Salesman. This production starred Lee J Cobb. Later on, Wilder starred in some television movies, which included Thursday's Game and what is labelled a comedy variety special Annie and the Hoods. Both of these productions were in the year 1974.

Gene Wilder's Memorable Film Roles

Nowadays, Gene Wilder is well known for his big-screen roles, for which he will be remembered. In 1967, Gene Wilder had attempted his very first memorable on screen appearance as Eugene Grizzard. Eugene is a kidnapped undertaker in Bonnie and Clyde, which is an Arthur Penn classic.

Not long after that, Wilder played the hysterical Leo Bloom in The Producers. Leo Bloom is an accountant who gets lured into a money biking scheme by Zero Mostel's character who is a theatrical producer. This production was directed and written by Mel Brooks of course and became his first memorable role, as Gene Wilder was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Once news got around he was nominated, this was the light shining down on him saying his film career had begun and a star was truly born.

After starring in The Producers, Wilder starred in a dual role with the actor Donald Sutherland. This production was called Start the Revolution Without Me. During this production, Wilder showed off his fencing skills to the world. This production was a success and he then appeared in another fantastic comedy called Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin in the Bronx. Both of these films were in the year 1970.

Then came along 1971. This was the year Gene Wilder took on a role in which no one will ever forget. Wilder was seen onscreen in the famous purple coat and top hat as he became the famous Willy Wonka! As Roald Dahl's famous book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was brought to life, the beloved characters began to jump out of each and every page and created by wonderful actors and actresses. Of course, Wilder stole the show as he was the original Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Choclate Factory. This production didn't get off to a flying start back then. However, it is now labelled one of the best children's films today. The British-American musical fantasy film was directed by Mel Stuart. When it hit the box office in 1971, it made a total of $4 million. Despite the film being a classic today, Roald Dahl disliked the film as he believes there was more focus on Willy Wonka than Charlie Bucket.

After portraying the delightful and entertaining Willy Wonka, Wilder continued his film career by starring in two comedies in 1974. The first one being the Western comedy Blazing Saddles and the other one being an insane and mad adaption of the famous novel Young Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Wilder took on the role of the mad scientist which consisted of a sweet and hysteria personality. After this production, Wilder went to star in numerous productions. Some being Silver Streak, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Another You and The Woman in Red.

Jumping forward to the 1990s now. In the early '90s Wilder went onto starring in his last film with Pryor and was another comedy titled Funny About Love. In 1994, Wilder decided to write and star in the A&E Telepicks The Lady in Question and Murder in a Small Town in 1999. His last onscreen appearance was in the television show Will and Grace, where he popped up in a few episodes as Mr. Stein, which went on to win him an Emmy.

With him sadly passing away from complications with Alzheimer's disease, he will never be forgotten. Many celebrities have taken to Twitter to remember him.

Mel Brooks said:

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.

Jim Carrey followed Mel Brooks steps and Tweeted:

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.

What is your favorite production starring Gene Wilder?


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