It saddens me to report that the legendary actor who stole our hearts with classics such as Blazing Saddles, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and of course one of my favorite genre spoofs Young Frankenstein has passed away from complications relating to Alzheimer’s at the age of 83. According to Variety, Wilder passed quietly sometime yesterday in the comfort of his own home in Stanford Connecticut. His nephew released the following statement :
“We understand for all the emotional and physical challenges this situation presented we have been among the lucky ones — this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality. The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him “there’s Willy Wonka,” would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.
He continued to enjoy art, music, and kissing with his leading lady of the last twenty-five years, Karen. He danced down a church aisle at a wedding as parent of the groom and ring bearer, held countless afternoon movie western marathons and delighted in the the company of beloved ones.”
2016 has definitely left a sting so far, taking legends such as Prince and David Bowie and this news hits just as hard. Wilder was one of those rare talents able to be loved by fans of all ages and will surely live on through the legacy of amazing films he leaves behind. On that note, I raise my glass to a man who can only be described as a Hollywood icon, think some positive thoughts for his friends, family and countless fans left behind, and pop in a few of my favorite’s starting with the Mel Brook’s classic Young Frankenstein. Farewell sir, may you always be remembered through your greatness.