Gene Wilder

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Wilder in 1970

Jerome Silberman (June 11, 1933August 29, 2016), known professionally as Gene Wilder, was an American comic actor in film and theater, screenwriter, film director, and author.


  • This was in Milwaukee when I was eleven years old. I went to see my sister give a dramatic reading. She'd been taking drama lessons. I walked into the hall, and there was a little stage at the other end, and maybe 150 people, parents mostly, or children like myself. The lights went down slowly, very slowly. Then it was dark. Spotlights hit the stage, and there was my sister, standing there in the middle of the stage, and... everyone was listening to her. Everyone. At that moment I thought, that must be the most beautiful thing in the world, to be able to arrange things so that people have to listen to you. So, that's why I became an actor. Well, anyway, my analyst says it's better than running naked in Central Park...
  • [On Young Frankenstein] I started writing two pages about what I would like to see it become [...] I would like it to be a happy ending. My agent called me…he said, "I wanted to do a film with you and Marty Feldman and Peter Boyle." So I wrote a couple more pages with the Transylvania ending, and she said "This is great, we should get Mel Brooks to direct." And he wouldn't direct something he didn't conceptualize. The phone rings, it was Mel, and he says "what are you getting me into?" I said, nothing that you don’t want to get into.
  • [On Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory] I thought the script was very good, but something was missing. I wanted to come out with a cane, come down slowly, have it stick into one of the bricks, get up, fall over, roll around, and they all laugh and applaud. The director asked, ‘what do you want to do that for?’ I said from that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth.
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