Hollywood is in mourning this week after legendary actor Gene Wilder, best known for playing Willy Wonka in the classic film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, passed away late Sunday night. He was 83 years-old.
Yahoo reported that Wilder’s nephew said that the actor and writer died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Jordan Walker-Pearlman released a statement saying Wilder had been diagnosed with the disease three years ago, but he kept his diagnosis private.
“He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world,” Walker-Pearlman said.
Brooks was also known for his roles in Mel Brooks movies like The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein.
“One of the truly great talents of our time,” Mel Brooks tweeted. “He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship.”
Since his wife Gilda Radner of Saturday Night Live fame died of ovarian cancer in 1989, Wilder used his public persona to promote cancer research. He testified before Congress about the need for increased testing for cancer in the early 1990s and opened a support facility for cancer patients called “Gilda’s Place.”
Wilder is survived by his wife Karen, who he has been married to since 1991. He will be missed by millions of adoring fans.