[[caption-width-right:283:''"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams."'']]

->''"A little nonsense, now and then, is relished by the wisest men."''
-->-- ''Film/WillyWonkaAndTheChocolateFactory''

Jerome Silberman, better known as Gene Wilder (June 11, 1933 August 29, 2016), was widely regarded as one of the greatest comedic actors of the 20th century, if not ''the'' greatest. He was best known for being the first actor to portray Film/{{Willy Wonka|AndTheChocolateFactory}} (see right), for his collaborations with Creator/MelBrooks, and for his four co-starring appearances with Creator/RichardPryor.

His desire to act started at the age of eight, when his mother was stricken with rheumatic fever. The doctor sternly warned the young boy that any stress may prove fatal. So, he impressed on him one important lesson: "try and make her laugh."

Wilder met and fell in love with ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' 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 TurnOfTheMillennium (save for a couple of guest appearances on ''Series/WillAndGrace'' in 2003), and afterwards he devoted himself to writing. He died in 2016 at the age of 83 from complications with Alzheimer's disease.

!! Partial filmography:
* ''Film/BonnieAndClyde'' (1967)
* ''Film/TheProducers'' (1968); his first collaboration with Creator/MelBrooks. Received his only Oscar nomination for acting (Best Supporting Actor; lost to his future ''Willy Wonka'' co-star Jack Albertson for ''The Subject Was Roses'').
* ''Theatre/{{Rhinoceros}}'' (1969)
* ''Film/StartTheRevolutionWithoutMe'' (1970)
* ''Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx'' (1970)
* ''Film/WillyWonkaAndTheChocolateFactory'' (1971); his most iconic role.
* ''Series/TheElectricCompany1971'' (in animated inserts, such as ''The Adventures of Letterman'')
* ''Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)'' (1972)
* ''Film/BlazingSaddles'' (1974); his second collaboration with Mel Brooks.
* ''Literature/TheLittlePrince'' (1974)
* ''Film/YoungFrankenstein'' (1974; also cowriter); his third and final collaboration with Mel Brooks. Received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay (with Brooks); lost to Creator/FrancisFordCoppola and Mario Puzo for ''Film/TheGodfatherPartII''.
* ''Film/TheAdventureOfSherlockHolmesSmarterBrother'' (1975; also writer and director)
* ''Film/SilverStreak'' (1976); his first screen pairing with Creator/RichardPryor.
* ''The World's Greatest Lover'' (1977; also writer and director)
* ''The Frisco Kid'' (1979)
* ''Film/StirCrazy'' (1980); his second screen pairing with Richard Pryor.
* ''Film/TheWomanInRed'' (1984; also cowriter and director)
* ''Haunted Honeymoon'' (1986; also cowriter and director)
* ''Film/SeeNoEvilHearNoEvil'' (1989; also cowriter); his third screen pairing with Richard Pryor.
* ''Funny About Love'' (1990)
* ''Another You'' (1991); his fourth and final screen pairing with Richard Pryor. Also his final theatrical film role.
* ''Series/WhereInTheWorldIsCarmenSandiego'' (1992; In the never aired episode: "Auld Lang Gone")
* ''Series/SomethingWilder'' (1993; TV Sitcom)
* ''Film/{{Alice in Wonderland|1999}}'' (1999; TV movie adaptation)

!!This actor's work provides examples of:
* TheCastShowOff: 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.
* ChewingTheScenery: A consummate master of this trope.
* ExecutiveMeddling: [[invoked]] In 1999 he did two television mystery movies 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 Series/{{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.
* FireForgedFriends: With Creator/RichardPryor. They were not as chummy as they appeared in the films, mostly owing to Wilder's intolerance of Pryor's cocaine addiction.
* FriendToAllChildren: He adored the way children's eyes lit up when they recognized him as Willy Wonka. And he kept the fact that he was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease for his final three years secret because, as he put it, he didn't want to take their smiles away.
** By all accounts, he got along amazingly well with the child actors for ''Willy Wonka'', particularly Peter Ostrum, whom he shared most of his scenes with. When it came time to shoot his infamous outburst at the end of the film, Wilder heavily resisted the urge to tell him just ''how mad'' he was going to be. He didn't want to ruin his friendship with Peter, but also wanted to help capture authentic shock. Julie Dawn Cole and Creator/DeniseNickerson also adored working with him; in fact, the only one Wilder didn't get along with was Paris Themmen, the youngest and most immature of the child actors.
** He even went out of his way to try and adopt one of his young Irish co-stars that he had grown particularly close to in Quacksar Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx when the boy's family mentioned that they could not afford to give him a very good life. However, even though Wilder had gone through the process to proceed with the adoption (Including a promise that the child would be raised a Catholic, despite Wilder being Jewish), the child decided that he did not want to go live in America after all.
* FunnyCharacterBoringActor: [[invoked]]In contrast to his loud, over-the-top onscreen performances, Wilder was a very shy and quiet man in real life.
* HorsingAround: Ineptly in ''The Woman in Red'', surprisingly well in ''Stir Crazy.''
* LargeHam: In films such as in ''Film/TheProducers'', where he goes in a outburst ("I'M HYSTERICAL!"/ "I'M WET!"/"I'M IN PAIN!")
* LeslieNielsenSyndrome: Prior to ''Film/TheProducers'', Wilder worked in theater as a dramatic actor. He vented to Mel Brooks one night that everyone was laughing at his performances when they weren't meant to, to which Brooks replied "Look in the mirror and blame God."
* NamesTheSame: He did not play congas on the Music/TalkingHeads song "I Zimbra".
* NiceGuy: By all accounts. His widow described him as someone who would take an insect outside instead of killing it, and knew he was suffering from Alzheimer's when he had an outburst at a grandchild. As shown above, he was a FriendToAllChildren and got along wonderfully with his co-stars.
* PlayingAgainstType: [[invoked]]
** 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.
** In another way, ''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.
* ProductionPosse: [[invoked]] Famously with Creator/MelBrooks and Creator/RichardPryor. Less famously so with Creator/DomDeLuise and Creator/MadelineKahn.
* RealMenWearPink:
** He had 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?''
** He was also well-versed in fashion and had complete control over his costume as Willy Wonka. Read his feedback to Mel Stuart regarding initial design sketches [[http://www.wmagazine.com/story/gene-wilder-willy-wonka-costume here]].
* ReclusiveArtist: [[invoked]] 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.
* StageNames: He was born as Jerome Silberman.
* StarDerailingRole: [[invoked]] ''Haunted Honeymoon''. Everything after that flop was bad news for Wilder until a minor comeback on television, which was also derailed by the above mentioned ExecutiveMeddling.
* SuddenlyShouting: Had a tendency to get very loud at a moment's notice throughout many of his works. As Willy Wonka, he famously [[ThrowItIn didn't tell the other actors]] how loud he was going to get during the film's climax, leading to more [[EnforcedMethodActing genuinely shocked responses]] (though he did ask for Peter Ostrum to be warned in advance when filming the infamous "You get nothing!" scene due to the friendship the two had built up over the course of filming; his request was denied).
* TeethClenchedTeamwork: Despite making several films alongside Creator/RichardPryor, Wilder and Pryor weren't that chummy.
* WagTheDirector: During filming of ''Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'', he had full control over nearly every aspect of his performance as the titular candyman, from the clothes he wore to the way he introduced himself at the start of the factory tour. By all accounts, his contributions were not so outlandish that it made production difficult and some of the film's most memorable moments were his ideas.
** By his own admission, he usually went out of his way to AVOID this trope, and rather than make waves on a set by arguing with a director, he would simply pass on a project if he didn't feel like a good fit. In fact, he got along with most of the directors he worked with, especially with Mel Brooks (the two were extremely close friends and neither garnered quite the same critical acclaim when working without the other), and Sidney Poitier, who he regularly played tennis with.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: After semi-retiring from acting in 1999, he passed on many, many roles that had been conceived for him.
** He was asked to voice a character in ''WesternAnimation/OverTheHedge'', but he turned down the role and the character was scrapped.
** Had Creator/GeneHackman not taken the role, he was Creator/WesAnderson's choice to play Royal in ''Film/TheRoyalTenenbaums''.
** One of the earlier films he passed on was the role of Milo Minderbender in Catch-22, despite having been interested in the role, he didn't care for how the character was written differently from the book.
** Also passed on the role of James Martin in ''Film/ThePoseidonAdventure'' due to scheduling conflicts.
** MelBrooks very much wanted to collaborate with Wilder again in ''Film/HighAnxiety'', in spite of their CreativeDifferences during the filming of ''Film/YoungFrankenstein'' straining their friendship, and offered him the lead role of the phobic Dr. Richard Thorndyke, but Wilder was already busy with producing, writing, directing, and acting in ''The World's Greatest Lover'', so he turned Brooks down. The duo never did collaborate again.