Hollywood remembers ‘true genius’ Gene Wilder

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The passing of Gene Wilder at the age of 83 is hitting Hollywood hard, with friends and co-workers remembering the man who brought Willy Wonka, the Waco Kid, and Dr. Frankenstein to life.

Mel Brooks, his director in Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and The Producers, called Wilder one of the “truly great talents of our time,” and said he “blessed every film we did with his magic and he blessed me with his friendship.” Steve Martin said Wilder was “one of the great screen comedians,” who was “original and surprising every time,” while Billy Crystal called him a “true genius” and “giant of comedy” whose “legacy of films is inspiring.”

Rain Pryor tweeted a photo of Wilder with her father, the late Richard Pryor, a frequent co-star. She told The Hollywood Reporter her dad thought Wilder “was amazing,” and always said, “‘That man’s a genius, and he’s a good man, that’s for sure.'” She believes the pair “helped each other grow as artists in their art form and who they were outside of their art form. They are the people who set the stage outside of the Laurel and Hardy type of thing.”

Julie Dawn Cole, who played Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, told BBC Radio 5 he was a “wonderfully kind, generous, and mega-talented man, but without an ego. He was not grand, he was not a star, he was not a diva, he was just very sweet and kind.” Jim Carrey recalled Willy Wonka in his remembrance, saying Wilder was “one of the funniest and sweetest energies ever to take a human form. If there’s a heaven, he has a Golden Ticket.”

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