With his recent passing, many of us have thought back to one of Gene Wilder’s most popular roles, Willy Wonka. Wilder, whose real name is Jerome Silberman, has also starred in the classic films Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and several films with Richard Pryor including Silver Streak and Stir Crazy.
Gene Wilder wouldn’t take the role of Willy Wonka unless he could introduce Wonka with a limp and cane, followed by his fall forward and somersault (just as it appears in the final film). When asked why, Wilder replied, “Because from that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth.”
Towards his final years, Wilder retired from acting and focused on writing and cancer awareness, a passion that came after the death of his wife actress and comedienne Gilda Radner.