From The Associated Press:
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Revered as a comedic and storytelling genius by Hollywood’s top entertainers, Gene Wilder was a humble man who downplayed his comic gifts, was a serious director and remained deferential to his longtime collaborator, Mel Brooks.
“I am him in fantasy,” Wilder once said of playing the lead in Brooks’ films.
After Wilder’s death was announced Monday, Brooks called his colleague “one of the truly great talents of our time.”
“He blessed every film we did together with his special magic and he blessed my life with his friendship,” Brooks said in a statement. “He will be so missed.”
Wilder died Sunday night of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at age 83. His nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, said Wilder was diagnosed with the disease three years ago, but kept the condition private so as not to disappoint fans.
Though Wilder started his acting career on the stage, millions knew him from his work in the movies, especially the ones he made with Brooks, such as “The Producers,” ”Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein.” The last film – with Wilder playing a California-born descendant of the mad scientist, insisting that his name is pronounced “Frahn-ken-SHTEEN” – was co-written by Brooks and Wilder and earned the pair an Oscar nod for adapted screenplay.
With his unkempt hair and big, buggy eyes, Wilder was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in schemes that only a madman such as Brooks could devise, whether reviving a monster in “Young Frankenstein” or bilking Broadway in “The Producers.” Brooks would call him “God’s perfect prey, the victim in all of us.”
But he also knew how to keep it cool as the boozing gunslinger in “Blazing Saddles” or …