Worked With:

James Lipton

Debra Messing

Hillary B Smith

Richard Pryor

Christine Lahti

Ellen Burstyn

Gilda Radner

Charles Grodin

Harrison Ford

Gene Wilder Biography

Home > Actors > W > Wilder, Gene > Biography

Birth Name: Gene Wilder
Born: 06/11/1933
Birth Place: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Wilder's performance as the endearingly frantic Leo Bloom in "The Producers" (1967) kicked off his celebrated collaboration with Brooks and garnered him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. His career gained momentum as he played a swashbuckler in Bud Yorkin's "Start the Revolution without Me" (1970), the candy impresario of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" (1971) and a sheep-smitten doctor in Woody Allen's "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex* (* but were afraid to ask)" (197). But the hilarity was just beginning, Wilder reteamed with Brooks for the inspired lunacy of "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein" (both 1974), earning his second Oscar nomination for his first-time screenwriting efforts (along with Brooks) on the latter. Spurred by these triumphs, Wilder made his directorial debut (in addition to acting and starring) with "The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother" (1975), featuring actors from the Brooks' troupe like Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman and Dom DeLuise.

Wilder's subsequent behind-the-camera genre spoofs have, on the whole, been disappointing, with the exception of "The Woman in Red" (1984), a broad remake of the French farce "Pardon Mon Affaire". His first association with Richard Pryor had come on "Blazing Saddles", but Pryor (co-screenwriter) had lost out in his bid for the Cleavon Little role. The two first acted together in the highly entertaining and commercially successful "Silver Streak" (1976) and scored at the box office again with "Stir Crazy" (1980), but their later efforts ("See No Evil, Hear No Evil" 1989, "Another You" 1991) were mediocre, the final film particularly marred by Pryor's all-too-apparent real-life health problems. Ironically, "Hanky Panky" (1982), Wilder's first of three films with his late wife Gilda Radner, would have paired him with Pryor, but Pryor's unavailability necessitated rewriting the part for Radner. Wilder starred in the short-lived NBC sitcom "Something Wilder" (1994-95) and made his London stage debut in Neil Simon's "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" in 1996.