Mourning Gene Wilder, The Comedic Gentle Giant

The frizzy-haired, wild blue-eyed poignant actor and director Gene Wilder, known for his many iconic roles in films such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, The Producers and Young Frankenstein, has died at the age of 83.

The comedy gentle giant brought us inherently Jewish characters — from the doctor who made sure you said his name correctly (“it’s pronounced Franken-STEEN”) to the hysterical (and wet) accountant-turned-producer Leo Bloom — that dazzled on the big screen for decades.

He passed away Aug. 28 in his Stamford, Conn., home due to complications with Alzheimer’s disease, which he has been quietly battling for three years.

“The choice to keep this private was his choice,” said nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman in a statement. “We understand for all the emotional and physical challenges this situation presented we have been among the lucky ones — this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality.

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