Time reversed itself for a moment when I heard the news of Gene Wilder’s passing due to complications from Alzheimer’s Disease. He’s been a part of my life since “Willy Wonka”and his spirit helped me through the challenging and uncertain days of my fight against Colon and Breast Cancer.
Last year I wrote about Gene Wilder on my Livinginthemoment2015.com blog as I began chemotherapy for Colon Cancer and how his role in one of my favorite films,”Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” influenced my attitude toward treatment.
Throughout my cancer journey, I was constantly inspired by Wonka’s belief that all things are possible with imagination, whatever your dream may be. What a great philosophy and attitude to keep joy and a positive spirit in your life.
It was “lightning in a bottle” when Wilder teamed up with the brilliant, writer, producer, actor and director Mel Brooks. Their collaboration cemented our “love affair” and would lead to the hilarious and very political comedy-western, “Blazing Saddles” (1974), in which Brooks also starred. This film is an all-time favorite at my house and it’s not unusual for me and my husband to break out in quotes from the movie as we reflect back on the film with fondness.
I break out in uncontrollable laughter at just the thought of “Young Frankenstein”.
The next Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder collaboration, “Young Frankenstein” (1974) was pure genius. I’m an old Universal horror fan and the accuracy of integrating all the Frankenstein films with humor was unforgettable and an incredible tribute to the franchise.
Wilder aspired to touch audiences much as Charlie Chaplin had. The Chaplin film “City Lights,” he said, had “made the biggest impression on me as an actor; it was funny, then sad, then both at the same time.” Mr. Wilder was an accomplished stage actor as well as a screenwriter, a novelist and the director of four movies in which he starred. (He directed, he once said, “in order to protect what I wrote, which I wrote in order to act.”)
He made his movie debut in 1967 in Arthur Penn’s celebrated crime drama, “Bonnie and Clyde,” in which he was memorably hysterical as an undertaker kidnapped by the notorious Depression-era bank robbers played by Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. He was even more hysterical, and even more memorable, a year later in “The Producers,” the first film by Mr. Brooks, who later turned it into a Broadway hit. (New York Times)
Although his light has dimmed his spirit will live on forever. R.I.P.