For anyone who’s heard the “Oompa Loompa” song or Frankenstein pronounced as “Fronkensteen,” Monday’s news of actor Gene Wilder’s death cuts deeply.
Wilder died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at age 83, according to his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman. Wilder passed away in his hometown of Stamford, Connecticut, late Sunday, reported the Associated Press.
He had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that originates in the lymphatic system, in 1989.
Wilder was born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee and began studying acting at age 12.
He started as a stage actor and later appeared in dozens of television shows and movies, including “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” in 1971 as the reclusive and slightly demented candy maker with his cadre of orange-faced Oompa Loompa assistants. Watch the trailer:
In the 1974 Mel Brooks-directed comedy, “Young Frankenstein,” he played the life-regenerating scientist in denial of his infamous grandfather’s legacy. In a rare public appearance in 2013, he spoke about the movie and of working with Brooks:
Wilder also starred in other Brooks classics, including 1968’s “The Producers” as an accountant trying to produce a Broadway flop, and in the 1974 western spoof “Blazing Saddles.”
On Monday, Brooks tweeted about the loss of his friend:
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.
— Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) August 29, 2016
The wild-haired actor was twice nominated for an Academy Award for his role in “The Producers” and for co-writing “Young Frankenstein.” He won an Emmy for his appearances in the television series “Will and Grace.”
After the 1989 death of his third wife and fellow comedian Gilda Radner from ovarian cancer, Wilder helped found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles. He is survived by his fourth wife, Karen Webb, whom he married in 1991.
He breathed life & joy into everything he touched. Rest in peace, Gene Wilder. pic.twitter.com/r7ufUDbyMq
— 20th Century Fox (@20thcenturyfox) August 29, 2016