Gene Wilder, the writer and actor best known for his indelible portrayal of Willy Wonka, died today after living with Alzheimer’s for the past three years. He was 83.
As fans look back at his career, this description of Wilder’s abilities in a profile for the Village Voice, written by Jerry Leichtling when Wilder was 39 and at the top of his game, seems as good a eulogy as any:
Wilder’s comedy has always been affecting because of the undertone of vulnerability and sadness which he projects. He tells of a real closeness to comedy that leaves people with a catch in their throats, but he always seems to be acting in a fantasy, with apprehension, understanding that it all may be suddenly jerked away.
Read the whole profile, originally published in the December 15, 1975, issue of the Voice, below: