Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder BiographyGene Wilder Biography

Name at Birth: Jerome (Jerry) Silberman
Date of Birth: 11 June 1933
Star sign: Gemini
Height: 1.79m
Place Of Birth: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Gene Wilder studied drama at the University of Iowa and then attended the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Gene taught fencing to support himself while searching for theater roles and received his first break was in an off Broadway production of "Roots". This led to a Broadway debut in "The Complaisant Lover".

In 1967, Wilder married Mary Joan Schultz, having previously been married to Mary Mercier for five years, and made his Hollywood breakthrough with a small role in Bonnie and Clyde. In 1968 Wilder starred as Leo Bloom in his first Mel Brooks film The Producers which helped establish his comic acting skills.

Over the next few years, Wilder starred in a number of films but is probably still best known for his 1971 role as Willy Wonka in "Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory", an adaptation of the Roald Dahl children's book.

Two of Gene's finest performances came when he collaborated with Mel Brooks on "Blazing Saddles" in 1973 and "Young Frankenstein" in 1974. As well as taking a cameo role in "The Little Prince", Wilder also completed his divorce from Mary Joan Schutz in 1974, after seven years of marriage and one child.

Gene Wilder made his directorial debut in 1975 with "The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother" but it was in 1976 that he first teamed up with Richard Pryor in smash hit "Silver Streak".

The chemistry between them led to them co-starring in another three films - Stir Crazy, See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Another you, making them the most prolific interracial partnership of the time.

In 1982, Wilder starred in "Hanky Panky" with Gilda Radner as Richard Pryor was unavailable for the role and romance blossomed. The pair married in 1984 and remained married until her death from ovarian cancer in 1989. Her death was said to have devastated Wilder who co-founded Gilda's Club in her memory. Wilder remarried in 1991 to Speech therapist Karen Boyer but remains actively involved in charity work for ovarian cancer.

In 1998 Wilder became known to a whole new audience thanks to his collaboration on the book Gilda's Disease for which he shared his personal experiences of his third wife's struggle with ovarian cancer. It was a serious move for Wilder and reaffirmed his dedication to helping both sufferers and supporters of those with ovarian cancer.

Gene Wilder has continued to work with voicing a character in the hit animation movie Over The Hedge and starring in "Instant Karma", released in 2006.

He released his autobiography, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art in 2005 which was widely praised for it's honesty and openness, particularly surrounding the death of his third wife Gilda Radner. He also also written several other Books and although not active on screen, Gene continues to entertain with the written word.

In a 2008 Turner Classic Movies special "Role Model: Gene Wilder", where Alec Baldwin interviewed Wilder about his career, Gene said that he was basically retired from acting for good. "I don't like show business, I realized." he explained. "I like show, but I don't like the business."

Where next? Take a look at Gene Wilder's Movies

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