The son of a Russian souvenir seller who became one of Hollywood’s great comedians is…the life of Gene Wilder.
- Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee in 1933, Wilder grew up as the son of a Russian immigrant father who sold souvenirs and a Polish mother
- He caught the acting bug at school and went to university to study theater
- Wilder moved to England before returning to New York to star in plays
- His move into film began in 1963 when he was introduced to director Mel Brooks, who he would later collaborate with
- 1968 saw Wilder’s big break when he starred in Brooks’ film The Producers
- Then in 1971 he took on his most well-remembered role as Willy Wonka
- Wilder passed away on Monday following a secret battle with Alzheimer’s
He was indisputably one of Hollywood’s great comics, a manic presence on screen who could move from laughter to tears and anger in the space of a single line.
Gene Wilder’s frizzed-out hair and vivid blue eyes, which always seemed to have a twinkle in them, also made him one of the most recognizable actors of his era.
And while he may not have enjoyed the highest critical acclaim – missing out on Oscar awards twice – he endeared himself to generations of moviegoers as a dreamer of dreams, able to imbue his roles with a touch of magic.
Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee in 1933, Wilder took an early interest in performing and after graduating high school (left and right), he studied theater arts at university in Iowa
Wilder was known for his often manic performance style and charisma, both of which were on display during his most well-known performance as Willy Wonka.
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