Gene Wilder: A Hollywood Legend
Written By: Brittney Waxman
This year we lost a Hollywood legend, and one of our own, the great Gene Wilder, or as many refer to him as ‘Willy Wonka’.
Gene, also known as Jerome Silberman, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 11, 1933, to an affectionate Jewish family. His father, William, had emigrated from Russia. His mother, Jeanne, was ill due to suffering from a heart disease. When Gene was 8 years old, he was told by a doctor to make his mother laugh to help her health, so he would put on different accents, which played a big role in his interest to want to act.
In his earlier years, he was sent to the Black-Foxe Military Institute, where boys would beat him up because he was Jewish, which left him in confusion. Gene played some Jewish roles in films such as “Home For Passover”, an adaptation of a story by Sholem Alecheim. He was not religious, but he seemed to always stay true to his roots and was proud of where he came from.
As best said by Willy Wonka himself, “Time is a precious thing, never waste it”.
Gene sadly passed away on August 29th, 2016, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
May his memory be a blessing.