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Gene Wilder, actor and University of Iowa alum, 1933-2016


Gene Wilder
Photo still via Blazing Saddles

Actor, comedian and University of Iowa graduate Gene Wilder passed away Sunday, August 28 at his home in Stanford Connecticut due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83.

Born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1933 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Young Frankenstein and Willy Wonka star was a member of Iowa’s Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater arts in 1955.

Mel Brooks, director of many of Wilder’s more notable works, shared his condolences today via Twitter:

Wilder was known for his comedic collaborations with the late Richard Pryor, most notably playing George Caldwell in Silver Streak. He also co-starred alongside Cleason Little in Blazing Saddles, playing the role of Jim, “The Waco Kid.” In addition to writing and directing several films, Wilder was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Harold Bloom in Mel Brook’s The Producers.

In 2001, Wilder gifted many of his archived scripts and film material to the UI Libraries Special Collections, which included an original script from Young Frankenstein.


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