Sadly, according to his family via the Associated Press, the great actor Gene Wilder has passed away at the age of 83 from, for now, unknown causes (though it’s rumored he fell ill to complications arising from his battle with Alzheimer’s). Wilder was best known for three roles: Dr. Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein (for which he received an Oscar nomination), the gunslinger known as Jim in Blazing Saddles, and of course, the title role in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (which, in recent years, has become popular as meme fodder).

Born into the world as Jerome Silberman, the son of a Russian immigrants (his mother was from Illinois), embarked on a career that spanned five decades after landing his first major role in an off-Broadway play of Roots. Though his acting portfolio wasn’t as vast as his good friend Richard Pryor (he only has 37 actor credits on IMDb), he still left an indelible mark on the world of cinema with performances in movies that would go on to be considered classics in the history of comedy films.

Wilder was married four times, first to Mary Mercier, then to Mary Schutz, thirdly to the late-Saturday Night Live alum Gilda Radner, and finally to Karen Webb in 1991. Soon after the death of Radner, he became highly involved with cancer awareness after ovarian cancer took her life, co-founding Gilda’s Club in her honor – the non-profit remains active for people suffering from cancer, as well as their friends and relatives. Like many aging actors, Wilder remained active in Hollywood, making special appearances on television shows such as Will & Grace and most recently, the children’s show Yo Gabba Gabba! in 2015.

We leave you with this scene from Young Frankenstein, that is sure to put a smile on your face – something the comedic actor was always sure to do.

Source: Associate Press