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Wilder, Gene


WILDER, GENE (Jerry Silberman ; 1933– ), U.S. actor. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Wilder received a B.A. from the University of Iowa. He taught fencing before making his off-Broadway debut in Arnold Wesker's Roots in 1961. Moving on to the Broadway stage, Wilder appeared in The Complaisant Lover (1961); Mother Courage and Her Children (1963); One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1963); The White House (1964); and Luv (1964).

He made his film debut as the undertaker in Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Wilder was nominated for an Academy Award for his next film, The Producers (1968), and from then has starred in a variety of comedy vehicles (also writing and directing some of them), including Start the Revolution without Me (1970); Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971); Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex but Were Afraid to Ask (1972); the drama Rhinoceros (1974); Blazing Saddles (1974); Young Frankenstein (written with Mel Brooks; Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, 1974); The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (wrote, directed, 1975); Silver Streak (1976); The World's Greatest Lover (1977); The Frisco Kid (1979); Stir Crazy (1980); Hanky Panky (1982); The Woman in Red (1984); Haunted Honeymoon (1986); See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989); Funny about Love (1990); Sunday Lovers (1990); and Another You (1991).

Wilder also appeared in several tv movies; had guest roles on a number of television shows; starred in the sitcom Something Wilder (1994–95); and was the voice of the Letterman on the children's educational program The Electric Company (1972–77). In 2003 he was nominated for an Emmy for his appearance on the sitcom Will and Grace.

Wilder has been married four times, with his marriage (1984–89) to comedienne and co-star Gilda *Radner the most publicized. After she died of ovarian cancer, Wilder co-founded Gilda's Club, a support group to raise awareness about the disease.

His autobiography, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art, was published in 2005. He also wrote Gilda's Disease (with Dr. S. Piver, 1996).


G. Radner, It's Always Something (1989).

[Jonathan Licht /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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