Belfast Telegraph

Fans pay tribute to Wonka star Gene Wilder, dead at 83

By Catherine Wylie

Willy Wonka star Gene Wilder has died, aged 83.

The Hollywood actor, known for roles in comedy classics such as Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, has been hailed a "comic genius" and one of the "great talents" of his generation.

Wilder's nephew said he died earlier this month in Stamford, Connecticut, having suffered from Alzheimer's disease, the Associated Press reported.

His friend Mel Brooks, who directed The Producers, the classic comedy in which Wilder starred, said on Twitter: "Gene Wilder - One of the truly great talents of our time. He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship."

Comedian and presenter Dara O Briain tweeted: "Gene Wilder has died. Sad news, but such a life well-lived. For me, Young Frankenstein just pips Wonka, but so many wonderful performances.

"Expecting to hear people were fans of Blazing Saddles, Producers and Stir Crazy, but amazing number going for See No Evil, Hear No Evil."

Stephen Fry tweeted: "Farewell #GeneWilder, comic genius. Thank you for all those happy, happy hours."

Like many others, comedian Ricky Gervais picked up on one of Wilder's famous lines as Wonka, and said, simply: "Good Day Sir! RIP Gene Wilder"

One of Wilder's best-known films was Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, in which he played Roald Dahl's enchanting and slightly sinister candy man.

Actor Zach Braff posted a short clip from the Willy Wonka film and wrote: "RIP to the legendary Gene Wilder. 2016 has been painful so far."

This year has seen a long list of celebrity deaths, including David Bowie, Ronnie Corbett and Victoria Wood.

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