Gene Wilder, the actor forever immortalized as Willy Wonka in the 1971 classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died, his family announced on Monday, August 29, per The Associated Press. He was 83.
Wilder, a legendary comedic actor and writer known for his memorable roles in such classic comedies as The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein, reportedly passed following complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
In 1969, Wilder received his first Academy Award nomination for his performance in Mel Brooks’s 1968 cult classic The Producers. He was nominated again in 1975, this time for Best Adapted Screenplay with Brooks for their film Young Frankenstein. But it’s his beloved role as candy entrepreneur Willy Wonka in the quirky classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory that earned him an endearing legacy.
Based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was not an immediate hit at the box office but has since become a children’s favorite over the years, thanks in part to Wilder’s gentle chocolatier.
He is survived by his fourth wife, Karen Boyer, and his nephew.