Gene Wilder starred in some of the best-loved films ever to grace the big screen. The mere mention of his name evokes a smile or chuckle as it likely sparks the memory of a favorite scene. Thus, the world might find solace in the funny memories he left behind.
Here are 10 facts to learn about Gene Wilder.
1. His real name is Jerome Silberman. He was born on June 11, 1933 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He changed his name to Gene Wilder in preparation for his acting career after the military.
2. He made his first public performance in Romeo and Juliet at 15. However, an advice from his mother’s doctor might have stayed at the back of his mind. His mother had a heart attack when he was eight years old. At the time, the doctor told him not to make her angry or else she could die. However, he could make her laugh.
3. He studied Communication and Theater Arts at the University of Iowa. He moved to England and pursued acting lessons at the Bristol Old Vic Theater School.
4. While overseas, he won the English Schools Fencing Championship.
5. Jerome entered military service in 1956. However, his duties placed him in the psychiatric ward. He administered electro shock therapy to patients.
6. His casting alongside Anne Bancroft in the Broadway play Mother Courage and Her Children led to his longtime personal and professional relationship with Mel Brooks. At the time, the actress was dating her future husband.
7. His performance as a hostage in the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde film offered a glimpse of his unique comic talent.
8. Wilder earned two Oscar nominations for his works with Brooks. First, for Best Supporting Actor in 1968 as Leo Bloom in The Producers. Second, for Best Screenplay in 1974 with Brooks for Young Frankenstein, which was his favorite gig, according to Buzzfeed.
9. The actor set up Gilda’s Clubs throughout the country in memory of his third wife actress Gilda Radner. Sparks flew between the comedic talents on the set of the 1982 movie Hanky Panky. Sadly, her misdiagnosis led to early death from ovarian cancer in 1989 five years after they wed.