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Mel Brooks leads tributes to Gene Wilder

Published 29/08/2016

Gene Wilder
Gene Wilder

Rob Lowe, Reese Witherspoon and Russell Crowe are among the fans who are mourning the late legend's loss.

Comedy veteran Mel Brooks is leading the tributes to his late pal Gene Wilder following the news of the Hollywood icon's death.

The Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory star's nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, has confirmed the actor passed away at his home in Stamford, Connecticut earlier this month (Aug16) due to complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 83.

As soon as the sad news broke online, celebrity friends and fans flocked to social media to offer their thoughts and prayers, with Wilder's longtime comedy collaborator Brooks among the first to honour his memory.

"Gene Wilder, one of the truly great talents of our time, is gone," Brooks began. "He blessed every film we did together with his special magic. And he blessed my life with his friendship. He will be so missed."

Wilder famously portrayed eccentric monster maker Dr. Frankenstein in Mel's Young Frankenstein, and they teamed up again in 1974 for the cult comedy western Blazing Saddles. They also worked together on Brooks' The Producers in 1967.

Meanwhile, Russell Crowe was among the fans who idolised Wilder growing up: "I saw Blazing Saddles 7 times at the cinema with my school friends...," he recalled. "Gene Wilder you were a genius. Rest in Peace."

Jim Carrey was another longtime admirer, declaring, "Gene Wilder was one of the funniest and sweetest energies ever to take a human form. If there's a heaven he has a Golden Ticket", while Rob Lowe revealed, "Gene Wilder was one of my earliest heroes. Blazing Saddles, Willy Wonka, are CLINICS on comic acting. Sad to hear of his passing."

Actor/singer Harry Connick, Jr. posted: "so sad to learn of the passing of my good friend, gene wilder... such an incredible man... i'll miss you", and funnyman Ricky Gervais quoted Wilder's Willy Wonka character in his tribute, writing, "Good Day Sir!" RIP Gene Wilder", while fellow Brit Stephen Fry tweeted, "Farewell #GeneWilder, comic genius. Thank you for all those happy happy hours."

Frozen star Josh Gad hailed Wilder as "The greatest comedic mind of my childhood", as Reese Witherspoon planned to revisit the late star's cult hit Stir Crazy, adding: "What a special talent and inspiration #RIPGeneWilder. Going to watch #StirCrazy again tonight".

Other stars to pay tribute online included Olivia Wilde, Elizabeth Banks, Alyssa Milano, Josh Groban, David Boreanaz, Michael McKean, and actress Uzo Aduba, who called the late star "The genius, the talent, the actor, the original, the artist, the storyteller, the creative, the iconic, the great, great, great Gene Wilder."

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