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est. 2005
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Gene Wilder


Another piece of our childhood died today. There are many people this world could do without. Gene Wilder was not one of them. If you check IMDB, you may be shocked to find that Mr. Wilder only has 37 credits to his name, and that’s motion pictures and television combined. Yet the characters and movies we remember him for make it seem like he was as prolific as a Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson, or Morgan Freeman. He’s remembered for classic comedies with Mel Brooks, yet they only worked together three times. He’s known for his buddy pictures with Richard Pryor, but they only made four. He’s remembered for some not-so-memorable flicks with the love of his life, Gilda Radner, during a marriage that lasted less than five years before her death from ovarian cancer. Yet it seems he was always there, even though he had done nothing professionally since 2003, other than a voiceover last year for the Yo Gabba Gabba movie.

Few celebrity deaths have hit me this hard, and many of you will find it insane that I include Gene Wilder in the company of some other personal idols like John Lennon, Johnny Carson, Phil Hartman, Casey Kasem, and Robin Williams. Three of those men had their lives interrupted violently, either by their own hand or someone else’s. And like Mr. Carson, when Gene Wilder felt it was time to move on, he did. As long as he was out there, the door was never completely closed; the hope was there that we’d see him again, just one more time. Sadly the door (or maybe bookcase) is not reopening this time, even if somebody “puts the candle back!” And I’ll also throw this out there, a personal confession of sorts: Much more than the others I mentioned, Gene Wilder reminded me of me. Somewhat goofy, but pretty self-assured, manic in our behavior at times, emotions worn on our sleeves. We loved to make others laugh and smile, and we shared a quick, sarcastic wit. And then there was the hair!

If there is a gleam of happiness in his passing, it’s that he did live a long life, unlike many of his co-stars—Madeline Kahn, Richard Pryor, Cleavon Little, Marty Feldman, Zero Mostel—and that he’ll be reunited with them all, as well as Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens, Kenneth Mars, Jill Clayburgh, and of course his beloved Gilda.

It is reported that he died holding the hand of his current wife, surrounded by family, and listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s version of “Over the Rainbow.” Well, that wouldn’t be my version of choice, but it seems appropriate for Gene’s last ride in that glass elevator. Seems he found a button that even Willy Wonka didn’t know existed, one that will lift him to even greater unexplored heights, to a whole different world of pure imagination.

--Eternity Tours

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