If you're a millennial with an active social media account, you have most definitely seen the famous "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" meme. (If you haven't, I suggest googling it because it's pretty funny.) Until Aug. 29, 2016, I didn't know much about the man in the meme. Sadly, it wasn't until his passing that I learned of the inspiration, talent, and comedy that Gene Wilder brought to the world. Wilder lived a long life of 83 years with numerous accomplishments; many movies, an Emmy win, book deals, golden globe nominations, television shows, Broadway shows and a family. He was more than the original Willy Wonka that I grew up watching and giggling at, he was a father, a director, a screenwriter, an author, an artful comic and, most importantly, a star. Wilder was in more than twenty movies, some of them including "Young Frankenstein," "Blazing Saddles," "Bonnie and Clyde," "The Little Prince" and, of course, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."
Seeing the incredible reaction, to Gene Wilder's passing is a testament to his influential works. People sent tens of thousands of tweets, pictures, and articles mourning the comic genius' death, offering condolences to the family, and appreciating the impression he made on so many lives. Stars, like Carol King, Mel Brooks, and Steve Martin have openly talked about the heartbreaking loss of their friend. Mel Brooks told CNN that he misses not being able to call Gene because he was a wonderful part of his life. In addition to kind words, tributes have been made by AMC theaters, James Corden, and Coldplay. AMC theaters actually brought Wilder's two most famous movies, Charlie and the Chocolate and Blazing Saddles, back to the theaters for a limited time in order to honor him. James Corden did a genuine bit about his interactions with Wilder, saying that he was, "a magical person who made everyone around feel incredible joy." Another beautiful tribute was done by Coldplay last Sunday, when the band did their own rendition of 'Pure Imagination' from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The number of tributes to Wilder astounded me and, I am sure, moved him family and friends.
As I browsed the internet gathering information for this article, I saw headlines like "A charming life and career" or "Gene Wilder changed Hollywood." Seeing the way Wilder touched people, moved me to mourn a death of someone who I didn't know or had really heard of until a week ago. Gene Wilder's collection of artwork will allow him to be known forever but, the kind words people use to describe him will allow him to be loved forever. Rest in peace Gene Wilder; take you for the genuine giggles, magical characters and iconic meme.
Check out Coldplay's tribute here:
Check out James Corden's tribute here:
Check your local AMC theater to go see one of Gene Wilder's famous movies!