The sad passing of Hollywood icon Gene Wilder has led to an outpouring of emotion across the world, with social media awash with obituaries to the great Willy Wonka. His starring role in the unforgettable Roald Dahl movie adaptation earned him a special place in the hearts of children everywhere – but he was far from a one-trick pony; we’ve compiled a list of seven other Wilder movie roles which might jog your memory.
Movie: Bonnie And Clyde
Year released: 1967
Arthur Penn’s dramatic interpretation of the true story of a young couple who travelled across America robbing and killing people starred Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in the lead roles – but watch closely and you’ll see Wilder appear as one of their hostages, in his first ever movie role!
Movie: See No Evil, Hear No Evil
Year released: 1989
The third in a series of comedies alongside popular comic Richard Pryor, this 1989 story of a blind man and a deaf man working in tandem to foil a gang of thieves. Wilder trained with a speech pathologist to get into the role of a deaf man – and later married her!
Movie: Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask
Year released: 1972
Combining seven short stories into one movie, this picture survived its wordy title to become one of Woody Allen’s biggest successes – Wilder played the surreal part of a doctor who falls in love with a sheep.
Movie: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
Year released: 1970
Quackser Fortune was one of Wilder’s first lead roles in Hollywood, playing a manure collector who falls for a young American exchange student in Dublin. This small-scale movie was made for barely a million dollars and came just a year before he was cast as Willy Wonka in the movie that would make him a superstar.
Movie: The Producers
Year released: 1968
Since remade as a Broadway musical, The Producers was Gene’s first starring role, as accountant Leo Bloom, who advises a corrupt threatre producer to create the world’s worst play. Incredibly, Wilder missed an early script reading because he had to pick up an unemployment cheque – the movie would go on to make him one of the world’s most recognisable faces!
Movie: Hanky Panky
Year released: 1982
This movie from 1982 featured Wilder and co-star Gilda Radner as two people brought together when they are caught up in a murder plot and suspected of having blood on their hands. Though the film itself is largely forgotten now, the blossoming on-screen romance of Wilder and Radner led to their marriage in real life, which ended sadly when Radner died in 1989.
Movie: Young Frankenstein
Year released: 1974
Legendary comedy director Mel Brooks first met Wilder on the set of Blazing Saddles – and Wilder insisted that the next time they work together should be on an idea for a movie he had recently come up with – Young Frankenstein.
All of the above movies have been compiled into one huge infographic celebrating Gene’s legacy, check it out!