2016 has seen one pop culture hero after another sadly concede defeat to mortality, and this deeply depressing shitfest of a year has claimed another victim: Gene Wilder. According to the AP (via THR), “Wilder’s nephew said Monday that the actor died this month in Stamford, Conn. from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. In 1999, Wilder […]
The very first Gene Wilder movie I ever watched was Stir Crazy, where he starred as an ex-con with Richard Pryor. I think now I was too young for that movie, but my Mom was a huge Richard Pryor fan, and it was edited for television, so it wasn’t unsafe for me and my brothers to watch it. I’ve since seen Stir Crazy many times over the years and it remains a favorite.
One of my favorite movies though, is Blazing Saddles. I was in college by the time I saw it, and old enough to understand what I was watching. My college roommate introduced me to a lot of comedies, including Raising Arizona, and later Young Frankenstein, which I was initially unimpressed with but later became my favorite Gene Wilder film.
Gene Wilder had a quality about him that was simply magical. You just knew no matter what he said it was going to be hilarious ,and very possibly scandalous. All the greatest comedians have that mischievous twinkle in their eyes, and Gene had it in spades. I adored him as a child and that didn’t diminish as an adult, watching him charmingly snark his way through Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Facory.
I had no idea he’d been married to Gilda Radner, until she died. I was a fan of hers too, and remember staying up waay too late when I was young to watch her on SNL.
I still miss Gilda. I will miss Gene, too. If there is an afterlife, I hope the two of them are together.