RIP Gene Wilder

by Carla Renata

 

As a kid, I couldn't wait to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. What's not to like about a factory full of chocolate??!!  What about those Oompa Loompas? What about those iconic roles in the Mel Brooks films, The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, which earned him numerous Oscar nominations.

Wilder_Young Frankenstien
Wilder_Young Frankenstien
YoungFrankensteing_Wilder
YoungFrankensteing_Wilder

For me, it was his performances opposite comic genius Richard Pryor in Stir Crazy, Silver Streak and See No Evil - Hear No Evil and the many films he Co-Starred in with his wife and SNL Superstar - Gilda Radner that solidified my love of his humility driven comic genius.

Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in Silver Streak, 1976.
Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in Silver Streak, 1976.
Pryor and Wilder in Silver Streak
Pryor and Wilder in Silver Streak

Stir Crazy Clip

Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee, Wilder began studying acting at the age of 12. After graduating  U. of Iowa in 1955, he enrolled in the Old Vic Theater school in Bristol, where he honed his  acting technique and fencing.

Wilder caught his first big break playing a small role in the off-Broadway production of Arnold Wesker's "Roots" and followed quickly with his Broadway debut as the comic valet in "The Complaisant Lover" (both 1961), for which he won the Clement Derwent Award. His other Broadway credits included "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1963, with Kirk Douglas), "The White House" (1964, with Helen Hayes) and "Luv" (1966), but it was a 1963 Broadway production of "Mother Courage and Her Children" that altered the course of his life forever. In its cast was Anne Bancroft, who was dating Mel Brooks at the time, and the relationship established between the two men eventually led to Wilder's becoming part of Brooks' most celebrated actors.

With nominations for The Producers with Zero Mostel and Young Frankenstein, it seems Wilder's film career was unstoppable.. However, it was his collaboration with Richard Pryor that makes him unforgettable in my book.

[embed]https://youtu.be/pZ9UQxzG2po[/embed]

His first association with Pryor had come on Blazing Saddles, when Richard Pryor (co-screenwriter) lost his bid for the Cleavon Little role. Pryor and Wilder first acted together in the commercially successful Silver Streak  and  Stir Crazy , but their later efforts were mediocre.

[embed]https://youtu.be/M2Y9b-wWSFU[/embed]

Ironically, Hanky Panky, Wilder's first of three films with his late wife Gilda Radner, originally was written to pair him with Pryor again, but Richard Pryor's unavailability necessitated rewriting the part for Gilda.

Gilda and Wilder
Gilda and Wilder

[embed]https://youtu.be/3ziyp1hW-Eg[/embed]

Two years after Gilda's death, Wilder married Karen Boyer.

Mel Brooks spoke on the death of his longtime friend and movie collaborator, who famously worked with Wilder on a long list of films and  took to Twitter to remember the movie legend, who died today from Alzheimer’s disease at age 83.

“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,”

-Mel Brooks

Wilder and Brooks
Wilder and Brooks

For me, Gene Wilder will always be that unusually handsome, comic genius with the piercing blue eyes and a heart that seemed to be as golden as a ticket from the Willy Wonka Factory.

https://youtu.be/SVi3-PrQ0pY

Hotel Transylvania 2

MV5BMjEzNzc4NzEyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTAxMDQ2NTE@._V1_SX146_CR0,0,146,215_ Review of Hotel Transylvania 2 by Carla Renata for On Air With Tony Sweet at UBNRadio.com and Carla Renata's Corner

 

Sequels in general can be a little tricky and if they are animated the expectation to exceed the original is higher than one could ever imagine.  Why?  It's kinda like trying to capture lightning in a bottle twice.  When it works,  it's like cashing in on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Well baby, Hotel Transylvania 2 hits the jackpot!!!

Picking up after Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Jonathan's (Andy Samberg) wedding, she breaks the news to Daddy Dracula (Adam Sandler) about a little one the way.  When it becomes clear Daddy Dracula is obsessed with bringing out inner monster of his half-human/half vampire grandson Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), Mavis threatens to leave the castle for good moving to California.  So, when Jonathan takes Mavis to see what life in California would be like that's when the shenanigans begin.

While the kids are away, Daddy Drac's solution is to take his pack (Frank, Griffin, Wayne and Murray) and Dennis on a road trip for a little "monster-in-training" boot camp.  Little do they all know  that things are about to get majorly complicated grumpy-old school Grandpa Vlad shows up having no idea his new grandson is half human AND that humans are now welcome at Hotel Transylvania.  Baby, things get ugly since Vlad and sidekick despise ALL humans.

One of the more comical moments was when Drac finally arrives at "Camp Vamp", which has become more like a boy scout convention than the hard-core camp Drac recollects.  When Daddy Drac pretends that his cell phone signal isn't stable and can't text because his nails are in the way absolutely made me howl!!!

The all-star voice cast includes Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, David Spade, Steve Buscemi, Keegan-Michael Key, Molly Shannon, Fran Drescher and the legendary Mel Brooks.

Hotel Transylvania 2 opens in theaters nationwide TODAY - September 25th and trust me the kiddies will love it!!  The smaller the better...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3nqmGgnJe8