His death was certainly unexpected and untimely. Gene Wilder, an icon of popular culture, left his mark on many of the children and youth of Generation X. And why not, his legacy spans all the way through Gen Y, the millenials and many of today’s kids.
Willy Wonka has died, goodbye Doctor Frankenstein
Gene Wilder was one of those actors who did a lot during his career, but was epitomized by two or three stellar performances. With Gene Wilder, of course, his monumental role was the original Willy Wonka, billionaire owner of a chocolate factory. Wilder’s performance was so successful and well played, that Nestlé acquired the rights to produce chocolates under the Wonka brand in 1971. And to this day, the Wonka brand lives on. Talk about leaving your mark on the planet.
But Wilder’s career didn’t stop there. He was also known as the Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks’ satire film. I’ve never been particularly fond of Mel Brooks films (although Spaceballs was really not that bad), but you’ve gotta admit that Blazing Saddles was among the best he’s done, and largely thanks to Gene Wilder.
And to those that grew up in the 70’s, Gene Wilder became Young Doctor Frankenstein. Another one by Mel Brooks. Same thing as Blazing Saddles: Mel Brooks ain’t exactly my cup of tea, but Gene Wilder made the whole thing that much more fun, and amused and inspired millions of people around the globe.
And to this day, his legacy lives on. Almost 50 years later, many people are still discovering Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and of course, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Forget Tim Burton: if you want a headtrip unlike any other, Gene Wilder in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the way to go.
Gene Wilder: genius among the mad geniuses
And so Gene Wilder left us. And so Willy Wonka has died. And so we have seen the last of Doctor Frankenstein. A mad genius among mad geniuses is gone.
Gene Wilder’s outstanding roles as an actor, which really left a mark on people, were characterized by his introverted, loopy and refective performances. Wilder was one of those actors who could go all neutral, get lost in the dialogue … only to return seconds later with a hurricane of dialogue and mad energy. And the best example, without a doubt, it is Willy Wonka. The role of Willy Wonka fit Wilder perfectly, or rather, it was perfect Wilder that perfected Willy Wonka. Silent, bizarre, nearly depressive… and all of a sudden, an unexpected sling of dialogue, that left you wondering what was going to come next.
Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and other films in which he participated were like that. He did his characters so well, that everyone ended up wondering whether he was a great actor, or had more than a few screws loose up there.
Without a doubt, 2016 has taken away one of the characters that shaped today’s modern adult. One of those that gave us hours of fun, all sorts of original dialogues, catch phrases that even today pop up, and of course, a whole bunch of things to think about.