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The Genius of Gene Wilder


I can vaguely remember the first Gene Wilder movie that I would ever know. It was the 1971 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. With 37 credited roles to his name, that was just the first of many brilliant movies I would come to love. Far from politically correct, director Mel Brooks would have me fall in love with him again the first time I saw Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. These were all released before I ever entered this world, but they have stood the test of time in cinematic history.

“Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.” — Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

“No, no, don’t speak. For some moments in life, there are no words.” — Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

“Time is a precious thing. Never waste it.” — Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

Teaming up with Richard Pryor to bring laughs in Silver StreakStir Crazy, and See No Evil, Hear No Evil is, perhaps, where my off-kilter humor comes from. The Woman In Red and Haunted Honeymoon were not the best, but still silly in their own right. For some time, he had been battling Alzheimer’s disease for a while, and complications caused him to pass yesterday at the age of 83.

“I like show, but I don’t like the business.” — Gene Wilder

“For what we are about to see next, we must enter quietly into the realm of genius.” — Young Frankenstein

Some of my favorite sayings and quotes come from Wilder, many of which inspire my creative mind. To many, these are just characters written in a script, but Wilder made many of the scenes he starred in different than anyone expected. He fought to keep the song and dance routine for “Putting on the Ritz” in Young Frankenstein, and if you’ve never seen the full letter regarding is opinions on what sort of outfit the eccentric Willy Wonka would really wear, then you’ve missed out on some of his sheer brilliance.

It never ceases to amaze me that Wilder never even considered himself to be funny. Perhaps it’s because he brought so much more life to every character for which he was cast.

“You’re fooled by the applause into thinking that they love me, they really, really love me. Actors fall into this trap if they missed being loved for who they really were and not for what they could do.” — Gene Wilder

“I thought the script was very good, but something was missing. I wanted to come out with a cane, come down slowly, have it stick into one of the bricks, get up, fall over, roll around, and they all laugh and applaud. The director asked, ‘what do you want to do that for?’ I said from that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth.” — Gene Wilder

So what say you? Do you have any fond memories of the late Gene Wilder? Any favorite films, characters, or quotes? Please share them in the comments below!