Early obituaries of Gene Wilder headlined his portrayal of Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory, and understandably so. He played the character so well and made it unforgettable for kids and adults alike. But my father knows him best as Richard Pryor’s partner in such movies as Another You, Stir Crazy and See No Evil Hear No Evil, and I suspect many movie buffs cherish his collaboration with Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles and the hilarious Young Frankenstein.
Yet Wilder’s name isn’t often mentioned as one of the all time great comedians, in spite of his fruitful career. Following Pryor’s illness in the early 90’s, Wilder retired from public eye. He did appear in several TV shows, notably Will and Grace in 2003, but he never starred in a film again. So never mind that the younger generation was never properly introduced to Gene Wilder. Moviegoers who have enjoyed his performances for years will reflect on his career and cement his name as one of the nicest and funniest comedians of his generation. To quote Willy Wonka himself:
Goodbye. Adieu. Aufwiedersehen. Farewell