Saturday, September 18, 2021

Rest in Peace, Gene Wilder. FYI: He Was Married to Gilda Radner, Not Richard Pryor

gene wilder & gilda radner
Gene Wilder & Gilda Radner in Columbia Pictures’ ‘Hanky Panky’

*Film legend Gene Wilder has passed away. He was 83. Someone special was waiting for him in the afterlife.

I, like many others, am thankful for his time here with us, with me. He made us smile. He made us laugh. He especially made me appreciate having chemistry, and made me contemplate how far my starry-eyed dreams could take me.

An actor, screenwriter, director and author, Wilder’s famous for a number of acclaimed film roles.  He famously teamed with Mel Brooks for The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. He was soulfully serenaded by Stevie Wonder in The Woman in Red.

Wilder, though, is wildly known for his portrayal of reclusive candy maker Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. His iconic career, believe it or not, was so much sweeter than that one role.

Don’t get me wrong. Wilder as Wonka is a generational standout, one that stepped further into my own understanding as I got older. Now when I hear him sing “Pure Imagination” I find myself fighting back tears. I envision him in heaven, side-by-side with his greatest co-star.

I’m not talking about late stand-up comedy standard-bearer, Richard Pryor.

gene wilder & richard pryor
Gene Wilder & Richard Pryor

As I scrolled through Facebook following the announcement of Wilder’s passing, I noticed numerous posts celebrating his relationship with Pryor. The pair made four films together; Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Another You.

Indeed, they possessed great onscreen chemistry. But these posts made it sound as though they were a couple. Pictures of the actors together were captioned with such phrases as “reunited in heaven,” “together again at long last”, and “finally back together.”

My heart, however, warms with the thought of Wilder reuniting with his late wife Gilda Radner. Ovarian cancer claimed her life in 1989.

Having filmed 3 movies together, they too possessed admirable onscreen chemistry. It was on full display in ridiculous-yet-hilarious comedy Haunted Honeymoon. Also co-starring the late Dom Deluise, this black & white gem which Wilder wrote and directed is my favorite of all his movies. I would dare refer to it as his sweetest.

Now Wilder can again share sugar with his greatest costar in heaven, reuniting with Radner at long last.

I’ll make sure to mention that on Facebook.

mr joe walker
Mr. Joe Walker

Known as “The Word Heavyweight Champion”, Mr. Joe Walker has been a biographer, entertainment journalist, and columnist for 18 years; his acclaimed, award-winning work has been published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online for numerous publications including, Kalamazoo Gazette, and Notion Magazine. Walker’s currently writing for EURweb, Concrete Magazine’s,, and Hood Illustrated Magazine. Like him on Facebook, follow on Twitter @mrjoewalker, and visit his official website.




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