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August 30, 2016

Gene Wilder: Remembering A Comedy Movie Icon Through His 12 Most Memorable Roles, From ‘Willy Wonka’ to ‘Young Frankenstein’

Here is a photo gallery focusing on the career of Gene Wilder, who died Sunday at 83. The revered comic actor starred in such inarguable classics as The Producers, Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, and worked alongside such comedy greats as Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Richard Pryor, Wilder’s wife Gilda Radner, Madeleine Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman and Charles Grodin — and even with the likes of Donald Sutherland and Harrison Ford.

Wilder will be remembered best for his 1974 one-two punch of Brooks’ Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, both of which rate among the most hilarious films ever made, and for channeling Roald Dahl’s chocolate mogul Willy Wonka in the trippy 1971 classic. But his career also included such smaller gems as The Frisco Kid and opposite Pryor in Silver Streak and Stir Crazy.

1. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Wilder made his movie debut in this biopic of the legendary criminal lovers. Wilder played a hostage of Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty's felonious duo.

2. The Producers (1967)

This Mel Brooks classic, about two guys out to make some cash producing a film flop, was Wilder’s breakthrough performance and earned him an Oscar nomination for his role as Leo Bloom.

3. Start The Revolution Without Me (1970)

Wilder starred opposite Donald Sutherland in Bud Yorkin’s comedy about a set of twins -one an aristocrat and the other a peasant – who mistakenly swap identities right before the French Revolution.

4. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Wilder’s most recognized role was playing the titular, eccentric candy-maker Willy Wonka in the adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl children’s book.

5. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)

Wilder is a scene-stealing (what else?) doctor whose attempt to process the revelation that his patient is in love with a sheep is everything you always want to see on screen but rarely get.

6. Young Frankenstein (1974)

Wilder not only starred in Young Frankenstein but also co-wrote the iconic comedy with director Mel Brooks. The film follows the grandson of the infamous Dr. Frankenstein who heads to Transylvania where he learns the process of bringing the dead back to life.

7. Blazing Saddles (1974)

The hilarious Western parody had Wilder teaming up with Mel Brooks again as Jim the Waco Kid, a drunken cowboy with fast hands. Wilder is a mild-mannered gunslinger and recovering alcoholic in the Wild West who tries to help Rock Ridge's new black sheriff ingratiate himself to a town full of racist buffoons in the Brooks-directed classic, widely considered one of the greatest comedies of all time.

8. Silver Streak (1976)

Wilder began a potent onscreen collaboration with Richard Pryor in this railway caper.

9. The World’s Greatest Lover (1977)

Wilder did it all in The World’s Greatest Lover. He starred, produced, wrote, directed and even composed a song for the film about a baker who travels to Hollywood to try to be an actor.

10. Stir Crazy (1980)

Wilder and Pryor reunited in the Sidney Poitier-directed Stir Crazy, about a pair who are framed for a bank robbery and end up in prison.

11. The Woman In Red (1984)

Gene Wilder's only film he directed in a contemporary setting is by far his most successful effort. His other films have had higher levels of zany gags in them, but here he has crafted a down to Earth domestic comedy and it is very funny. His performance is, as usual, superb and he is surrounded by well chosen actors who also provide laughs. The ending leans a bit too close to whimsical, but it hardly deters the viewer's enjoyment.

12. See No Evil Hear No Evil (1989)

None of the four R-rated comedies Wilder and Richard Pryor starred in together would be considered politically correct—Wilder had a scene in black face in Silver Streak (the best-reviewed of all four)—and this one, in which Wilder's deaf man and Pryor's blind man combine to make a very imperfect witness to a murder is no exception.



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