Actor Gene Wilder has died after a private battle with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a family statement.
The comedy genius who performed on stage and in films passed away late Sunday in Stamford, Connecticut, aged 83.
His collaboration with others in film has left behind countless moments of comic legend in the annals of cinema.
Evening Standard reports:
He passed away after succumbing to complications from the disease, which he had battled privately for the past three years, the statement said.
During his film career, Wilder also appeared in classic comedies including Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, receiving an Oscar nomination for the latter movie.
He was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor following his performance in 1968 film The Producers.
Wilder’s nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, said the actor had chosen to keep his Alzheimer’s secret so that children who knew him as Willy Wonka would not equate the whimsical character with an adult disease.
He said: “It is with indescribable sadness and blues, but with spiritual gratitude for the life lived that I announce the passing of husband, parent, and universal artist Gene Wilder, at his home in Stamford Connecticut.
“It is almost unbearable for us to contemplate life without him.”
His friend Mel Brooks, who directed The Producers, wrote on Twitter: “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.”
Besides his classic collaborations with Mel Brooks, Wilder also paired with Richard Pryor in hits Silver Streak and Stir Crazy.
Wilder also was active in promoting ovarian cancer awareness and treatment after his wife, Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner, whom he married in 1984, died of the disease in 1989.
He helped found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles and co-founded Gilda’s Club, a support group that has branches throughout the US.
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