alt.obituaries Memorial Deadpool
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.
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