Get your facial tissues and sunglasses out for this:
(AP, Sandy Cohen):
A Milwaukee native, was born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1935. His father was a Russian emigre, his mother was of Polish descent. When he was 6, Wilder's mother suffered a heart attack that left her a semi-invalid. He soon began improvising comedy skits to entertain her, the first indication of his future career.
(Inside Edition, Sal Bono):
Gene Wilder Died While Listening to His Favorite Song, Family Reveals
The late comedian and actor Gene Wilder kept his Alzheimer’s diagnosis secret and suffered with the disease for three years, his heartbroken family has revealed.
The family of the Blazing Saddles star broke their silence following his death Monday in a statement written by Wilder's nephew.
“The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him ‘there’s Willy Wonka,’ would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world,” Jordan Walker-Pearlman said in a statement.
He passed away at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, at the age of 83 holding hands with family members as everyone sang his favorite song, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
Walker-Pearlman said: "As our hands clutched and he performed one last breath the music speaker, which was set to random, began to bare out one of his favorites: Ella Fitzgerald. There is a picture of he [sic] and Ella meeting at a London bistro some years ago that are among each [of] our cherished possessions. She was singing 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow,' as he was taken away."
What a great actor and such a big loss. I loved his movies as a kid (and adult). I saw Silver Streak so many times I can recite every line, even today.
Of course, who didn't love the Waco Kid "I spun around, and there I was face-to-face with a six-year-old kid. Well, I just threw my guns down and walked away. Little bastard shot me in the ass! So I limped to the nearest saloon, crawled inside a whiskey bottle, and I've been there ever since."
I hope they play his movies all week. I'll be catching them if they do.