Gene Wilder, the iconic star of such comedy classics as Young Frankenstein and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, is dead at age 83. The actor's nephew tells Variety Wilder died at his Stamford, Conn., home of Alzheimer's complications Monday. Jordan Walker-Pearlman says in a statement that Wilder's family was "lucky": "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 family did not disclose Wilder's illness not because of "vanity," the statement continues, "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. [Wilder] simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world." Variety notes that Wilder did not work regularly after the death of his wife, Gilda Radner, from ovarian cancer in 1989, but he did win an Emmy in 2003 for a guest role on Will & Grace. He is survived by his fourth wife, Karen Boyer, whom he married in 1991.