I’m going to miss him. I’m really going to miss him. I know he suffered from Alzheimer’s and hadn’t really done anything new and exciting in a while, but still, I always knew that he was still there. He was still Gene Wilder. Not only that, he was still Willy Wonka, still the Waco Kid from Blazing Saddles, still Dr. Frankenstein from Young Frankenstein, which he not only starred in, but wrote.
He was also Gilda Radner’s husband. The great love of his life, gone too as a victim of cancer back in 1989.
The first time I ever saw him on screen was in college, in film class. We watched Mel Brooks’ The Producers on the classroom projector.
We studied the movie in class as evidence that comedy films are difficult to make, but have a potential to be truly great film achievements. That same year, both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein hit the big screens in Ames, Iowa. I saw and loved them both. Of course, I had watched the televised version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on Grandma Beyer’s color TV sometime before that.
Gene Wilder helped me see that I could live in a world of pure imagination. And that I could be whatever I truly wished to be.
I’m definitely going to miss that man.