Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three…
In a statement released on August 29, 2016 by Mr. Wilder’s family his nephew had this to say on the 83 yr-old iconic actor and comedian’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease,
“We understand for all the emotional and physical challenges this situation presented we have been among the lucky ones — this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality. It took enough, but not that.
The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him ‘there’s Willy Wonka,’ would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.”
Gene Wilder was one of the few actors who could invoke humor and pathos in the same breath. There may have been movies of his I didn’t love but there was never a performance of his I didn’t enjoy.
And one sentiment has been repeated many times today and it rings with such love and hope I need to echo it myself.
At least he’s with Gilda now.
Thanks for all the laughs Gene Wilder, even the uncomfortable ones.