Creator / Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder (born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1933) is widely regarded as one of the greatest comedic actors ever, if not the greatest. He's probably best known for being the first actor to portray Willy Wonka (see right), for his collaborations with Mel Brooks, and for his four co-starring appearances with Richard Pryor.

Wilder met and fell in love with Saturday Night Live original cast member Gilda Radner on the set of the movie Hanky Panky (1982). They wed in 1984 and appeared together again in the films The Woman In Red and Haunted Honeymoon. Radner died following a long battle with ovarian cancer in 1989, after which Wilder established the Gilda Radner Ovarian Detection Center at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

Wilder essentially retired from acting around the Turn of the Millennium (save for a couple of guest appearances on Will and Grace in 2003), and since that time has devoted himself to writing.

Partial filmography :

This actor provides examples of:

  • Chewing the Scenery: A master of this trope.
  • Executive Meddling: He did two television Murder Mysteries for A&E 'Murder in a Small Town' and 'The Lady In Question'. Both got high ratings and critical praise, some even saying that his character, Larry "Cash" Carter, was the next Columbo. However, A&E ownership changed hands and they informed him there would be no more Cash Carter mysteries, leaving Wilder bitterly angry and causing him to retire completely from acting.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Richard Pryor. They were not as chummy as they appeared in the films, mostly owing to Wilder's intolerance of Pryor's cocaine addiction.
  • Horsing Around: Ineptly in The Woman in Red, surprisingly well in Stir Crazy.
  • Large Ham: In films such as in The Producers, Where he goes in a outburst ("I'M HYSTERICAL!"/ "I'M WET!"/"I'M IN PAIN!")
    • VERY much Averted in Real Life. Off-screen, Wilder is a shy, quiet man.
  • Leslie Nielsen Syndrome: Before starring in The Producers, he considered himself a dramatic actor.
  • Love Freak: See Real Men Wear Pink below.
  • One of Us: He's extremely tech savvy for a person of his age and one of his favorite pastimes is using the internet.
  • Playing Against Type: His role as Wonka went completely opposite the roles he had (until then) been most famous for, as those previous roles were all in films most especially not appropriate for children.
    • Actually, Silver Streak was this. Up until that point, Wilder almost exclusively played eccentrics or neurotics. Wonka falls in the "eccentric" category. His character in Silver Streak, George Caldwell, is a well adjusted book publisher who enjoys gardening and isn't particularly strange. He is thrown into a series of events that are more bizarre than his character. Perhaps the first time that ever happened with Wilder.
  • Production Posse: Famously with Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor. Less famously so with Dom De Luise and Madeline Kahn.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: He has a love of romance novels and even wrote two himself, My French Whore and The Woman Who Wouldn't as well as a collection of short romantic stories called What is this Thing Called Love?
  • Reclusive Artist: Rarely gave interviews at the height of his popularity and gave even fewer afterward. Also, went out of his way to say just how much he hates actually promoting a film to the extent that it caused him to pass on a lot of projects.
  • Romance on the Set
  • Sad Clown: Oh so much.
  • Stage Names: He was born as Jerome Silberman.
  • Star-Derailing Role: Haunted Honeymoon. Everything after that flop was bad news for Wilder until a minor comeback on television which also derailed thanks to Executive Meddling mentioned above.
  • The Cast Show Off: Any time he could sneak some swordplay into a film, rest assured, he would. Wilder was a champion fencer in college.
    • He also sang in a number of films.
  • What Could Have Been: He was asked to voice a character in Over the Hedge for a possible Career Resurrection, but he turned down the role and the character was scrapped.