Iconic Actor Gene Wilder Has Died
The actor’s nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman,said he died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease on Sunday night at his home in Stamford.
Walker-Pearlamn said, “He was eighty-three and passed holding our hands with the same tenderness and love he exhibited as long as I can remember. As our hands clutched and he performed one last breath, the music speaker, which was set to random, began to blare out one of his favorites: Ella Fitzgerald. There is a picture of he and Ella meeting at a London Bistro some years ago that are among each or cherished possessions. She was singing ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow,’ as he was taken away.”
He also revealed that Wilder had been living with Alzheimer’s for the last three years.
He shared, “The choice to keep this private was his choice, in talking with us and making a decision as a family. We understand for all the emotional and physical challenges this situation presented we have been among the lucky ones – this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality. It took enough, but not that.”
The statement continued: “The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him ‘there’s Willy Wonka,’ would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.”
Wilder was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1997, but stated publicly that he was in complete remission.
Wilder is survived by wife Karen Boyer.