Gene Wilder, best known for his turn as Willy Wonka in the 1971 cult classic, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” as well as his comedic collaborations with the likes of Richard Pryor and Mel Brooks, has died at age 83, his family announced Monday.
The loss of the actor caused an outpouring of appreciation among Hollywood’s elite, who took to Twitter to express their grief over the loss and to celebrate the performances that Wilder left as his legacy.
Director Mel Brooks, who worked with Wilder on “The Producers,” “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein” (the latter of which earned them an Academy Award screenplay nomination), was one of the first to tweet about the passing of Wilder.
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Grief over Wilder’s death wasn’t limited just to those who worked with the comedian, as evidenced by messages from a number of actors, some of whom could be considered comedy legends in their own right.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn took to his Facebook page to write a loving tribute to Wilder, highlighting his childhood adoration of the man and his approachable on-screen persona.
So iconic was Wilder’s body of work that his influence touched those far beyond those involved in comedy and film, however. Musicians, journalists, even federal employees expressed their grief online.
But perhaps the most touching memorials of Wilder came from those who view his death as an opportunity for the actor to be reunited with late wife and comedy superstar Gilda Radner, who died in 1989 of ovarian cancer.