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Gene Wilder, whose kinky curls and startling blue eyes brought a frantic air to roles in the movies “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles,” died on Monday at the age of 83, his family said.
Wilder, whose best work came in collaborations with director-writer Mel Brooks and actor Richard Pryor, died at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, the family said in a statement.
Mr. Wilder’s rule for comedy was simple: Don’t try to make it funny; try to make it real. “I’m an actor, not a clown,” he said more than once.
With his haunted blue eyes and an empathy born of his own history of psychic distress, he aspired to touch audiences much as Charlie Chaplin had. The Chaplin film “City Lights,” he said, had “made the biggest impression on me as an actor; it was funny, then sad, then both at the same time.”
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