Gene Wilder in Blazing Sadles
Wilder became interested in acting when he was eight years old and his mother was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and the doctor told him to try and make her laugh. A few years later when he was 11, he watched his sister, who at the time was studying acting, performing on a stage and was enthralled by the experience.
Wilder immediately wanted to study acting and asked his sister’s acting teacher if she would take him on. She told him that if he were still interested when he turned 13 that she would take him on as a student. Sure enough, the day Wilder turned 13, he phoned the acting teacher and she took him on as her student and he stayed with her until he was 15.
After an unsuccessful time in Black-Foxe, Wilder returned home and joined a local theatre company. With them he appeared as Balthasar (Romeo’s manservant) in a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Wilder’s first professional acting job came when he played the second officer in Herbert’s Berghof’s Production of Twelth Night.
In 1963 Wilder was cast in a leading role in Mother Courage and her children. It starred Anne Bancroft who then introduced Wilder to her boyfriend, Mel Brookes.
After that, Wilder toured the country with different theatre productions and eventually he took part in a CBS televised presentation of Death of a Salesman. This lead to him being cast in his first film role, which was a minor part in Aurthur Penn’s 1967 Bonnie and Clyde.
Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein
By 1969 Gene Wilder has relocated to Paris, France. He accepted a role in Bud Yorkin’s Start the Revolution Without Me. It was a comedy that took place during the French Revolution. When shooting ended for the film, Wilder returned to New York. It was there where he read the script for Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx.
But Wilder’s big break came in 1971 when he auditioned for Mel Stewart’s adaption of Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He was immediately offered the role of Willy Wonka after he left the audition room when Director Mel Stewart ran after him and offered him the part.
If you have seen the film ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ you will remember the scene where Willy Wonka walks out of the factory the greet the winners and appears as a cripple, by walking with a limp and holding a cane, when suddenly the cane sinks into the ground and Wonka keeps walking. When he realises he is walking without a cane he falls forward and before hitting the ground, he does a beautiful somersault. Remember it? Well, that scene was the condition Gene Wilder had to Mel Stewart before he took the part.
It’s no doubt Gene Wilder was one of the best actors the world has ever seen and he has definitely left his mark in the acting industry. Gene Wilder, we salute you!