“Blazing Saddles” star Gene Wilder dead at 83

 

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

NEW YORK — Gene Wilder, the star of such comedy classics as “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles,” has died. He was 83.

Wilder’s nephew said Monday that the actor and writer died earlier this month in Stamford, Connecticut from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. The exact date of his passing was not specified.

The frizzy-haired actor was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in schemes that only a madman such as Mel Brooks could devise, whether reviving a monster in “Young Frankenstein” or bilking Broadway in “The Producers.”

But he also knew how to keep it cool as the boozy sheriff in “Blazing Saddles” and as the charming candy man in the children’s favorite “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” Just this week, Brooks had made his case to Vanity Fair that “Blazing Saddles” was the funniest movie ever made.

Wilder developed a special onscreen relationship with “Blazing Saddles” co-writer Richard Pryor, going on to co-star with him in a series of films including “Stir Crazy” and “See No Evil, Hear No Evil.”

Wilder was married four times. His most famous relationship was with “Saturday Night Live” vet Gilda Radner, to whom he was married from 1984 until her death from cancer in 1989. Following Radner’s passing, he married Karen Boyer in 1991.

WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY: Pure Imagination Gene Wilder (1971) by TheRealWhatTheFudge on YouTube