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Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’s Gene Wilder has passed away

After a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, Gene Wilder has died aged 83.
Willy Wonka Gene Wilder

The charming star of the 1971 classic film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder died earlier this month after battling Alzheimer’s disease in private for the last three years.

His nephew has released the following heartfelt statement:

“We understand for all the emotional and physical challenges this situation presented we have been among the lucky ones — this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality. The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him “there’s Willy Wonka,” would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world. He continued to enjoy art, music, and kissing with his leading lady of the last twenty-five years, Karen. He danced down a church aisle at a wedding as parent of the groom and ring bearer, held countless afternoon movie western marathons and delighted in the company of beloved ones.”

Gene was an Oscar nominee twice and starred in Young Frankenstein, The Producers and Blazing Saddles.

He leaves behind his wife Karen Boyer.

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