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RIP: The Legendary Gene Wilder Dies at 83

Gene Wilder
Associated Press

Wilder rose to fame as a comedic icon of the 1970s. 

Gene Wilder, best known for originating the role of Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and a raucous turn as Dr. Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein, died today at his home in Stamfort, Connecticut. The actor had been battling Alzheimer's disease and was 83.

While some of Wilder's popular movies of his prime, like Silver Streak, will be remembered mostly by the audiences of their time, it's his truly enduring role as the eccentric Willy Wonka that will immortalize him. The role and the film itself have easily withstood the test of time, endured remakes, and still proved to be as relevant as when it was released in 1971. Children will always be enchanted by a magical land full of candy, will always be able to take the morals of the story to heart, and will always remember the song "Pure Imagination."

Wilder also starred in the 1974 live-action adaption of The Little Prince, playing the intelligent, thoughtful fox.

Fans may remember Wilder most recently from a stint on Will and Grace as Mr. Stein from 2002-03, even winning an Emmy for the role.

Wilder is survived by his fourth wife, Karen Boyer, and nephew.

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