Monday, August 29, 2016

RIP Gene Wilder

"Willy Wonka died?"  That was my first reaction when I heard that Gene Wilder had passed away at age 83.  It was also the first thing I thought of when Christopher Reeve died:  "Superman is dead?".  Both those roles were made iconic by Wilder and Reeve.  Since then nobody else (not Johnny Depp or the various other Superman actors) have come close.

On my short list of favorite films ever are Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factor and Young Frankenstein.  I was 7 (Wonka) and 10 (Frankenstein) and living in Germany when those came out.  But they've stayed with me throughout my life.  Both are on TV constantly and I always make time for them.  We never lose track of our fondest childhood memories.

Gene Wilder is an under appreciated genius.  He never got the late in life adulation he deserved.  There's no star for him on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  There were no lifetime achievement awards from SAG, Oscars or the Golden Globes.  Maybe he turned them all down.  He had that type of personality.  But as often happens, death has brought out a very loving appreciation.

The best Gene Wilder films (among others I love are Stir Crazy, Silver Streak, Blazing Saddles, Producers and the overlooked 1975 Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother) will continue to be shown for decades.  And I'm glad new generations continue to discover his genius.

Add to Technorati Favorites