Jerome Silberman (June 11, 1933 – August 29, 2016), known professionally as Gene Wilder, was an American actor, director, screenwriter, producer, singer-songwriter and author. He began his career on stage, and made his screen debut in an episode of the TV series The Play of the Week in 1961.
Although his first film role was portraying a hostage in Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967), with Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, and Estelle Parsons; Wilder’s first major role was as Leopold Bloom in Mel Brooks‘s The Producers (1976), with Zero Mostel and Kenneth Mars; for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. This was the first in a series of collaborations with writer/director Brooks, including Blazing Saddles (1974), with Cleavon Little, Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens, Alex Karras, Madeline Kahn, David Huddleston, and Dom DeLuise; and Young Frankenstein, (1974), with Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Terri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Mars, and Kahn; which Wilder co-wrote, garnering the pair an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Wilder is known for his iconic portrayal of Willy Wonka in Mel Stuart’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) and for his four films with Richard Pryor: Arthur Hiller’s Silver Streak (1976), Sidney Poitier‘s Stir Crazy (1980), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989), and Another You (1991), as well as starring in Woody Allen‘s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972), with John Carradine and Burt Reynolds. Wilder directed and wrote several of his own films, including The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975), with Feldman, Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Roy Kinnear and Leo McKern; and The World’s Greatest Lover (1977), with Carol Kame and DeLuise.
With his third wife, Gilda Radner (one of the original Saturday Night Live cast members), he starred in three films: Sidney Poitier‘s Hanky Panky (1982), with Kathleen Quinlan, Richard Widmark, and Johnny Brown; The Woman in Red (1989), with Charles Grodin, Joseph Bologna, Judith Ivey, and Kelly LeBrock; and Haunted Honeymoon (1986), with DeLuise, Jonathan Pryce, and Paul L. Smith; the last two of which he also directed. Her 1989 death from ovarian cancer led to his active involvement in promoting cancer awareness and treatment, helping found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles and co-founding Gilda’s Club.
After his last acting performance in 2003 – a guest role on Will & Grace for which he received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor – Wilder turned his attention to writing. He produced a memoir in 2005, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art; a collection of stories, What Is This Thing Called Love? (2010); and the novels My French Whore (2007), The Woman Who Wouldn’t (2008), and Something to Remember You By (2013).
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- Bonnie and Clyde (1967)** – directed by Arthur Penn
- The Producers (1967)** – directed by Mel Brooks
- Start the Revolution Without Me (1970) – directed by Bud Yorkin
- Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx (1970) – directed by Waris Hussein
- Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)** – directed by Mel Stuart
- Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972) – directed by Woody Allen
- Rhinoceros (1974) – directed by Tom O’Horgan
- Blazing Saddles (1974)** – directed by Mel Brooks
- The Little Prince (1974) – directed by Stanley Donen
- Young Frankenstein (1974)** – directed by Mel Brooks – also co-writer
- The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975) – also director, writer
- Silver Streak (1976) – directed by Arthur Hiller
- The World’s Greatest Lover (1977) – also director, writer
- The Frisco Kid (1979) – directed by Robert Aldrich
- Sunday Lovers (1980) – co-directed with directed by Bryan Forbes, Dino Risi, & Édouard Molinaro – also writer – anthology
- Stir Crazy (1980) – directed by Sidney Poitier
- Hanky Panky (1982) – directed by Sidney Poitier
- The Women in Red (1984) – also director, writer
- Haunted Honeymoon (1986) – also director, co-writer
- See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) – directed by Arthur Hiller – also co-writer
- Funny About Love (1990) – directed by Leonard Nimoy
- Another You (1991) – directed by Maurice Phillips
- Love, Gilda (2018) – directed by Lisa Dapolito – archive footage – documentary
- The Play of the Week (1959-1961) – anthology, 1 episode (1961)
- Armstrong Circle Theatre (1950-1963) – anthology, 1 episode (1962)
- The Defenders (1961-1965) – 1 episode (1962)
- The DuPont Show of the Week (1961-1964) – anthology, 3 episodes (1962, 1963)
- Death of a Salesman (1966) – directed by
- James B. Clark & Alex Segal – TV movie
- The Scarecrow (1972) – TV movie
- Acts of Love and Other Comedies (1973) – TV movie
- Thursday’s Game (1974) – directed by Robert Moore – TV movie
- Eligible Dentist (1993) – TV movie
- Something Wilder (1994-1995) – 15 episodes, main actor
- Murder in a Small Town (1999) – directed Joyce Chopra – TV movie – also co-writer
- Alice in Wonderland (1999) – directed by
- Nick Willing – TV movie
- The Lady in Question (1999) – directed by Joyce Chopra – TV movie – also co-writer
- Will & Grace (1998-2006, 2017-2020) – 2 episodes (2002, 2003)