Gene Wilder's legacy is more than secure. Known for being able to play both the straight man and the unhinged, Wilder's talent is to so completely create the character from mannerisms to vocal inflections, that we all forget it's an actor playing a part that we're watching. Very few actors get the opportunity to play even one timeless and memorable part, and Wilder's played too many to count!
Though he's been much less active in showbiz for about a decade, his resume is so impressive that he could have retired from acting thirty years ago and we'd still be talking about him today. In honor of Gene's 79th birthday today, we decided to take a look at his most memorable film roles; the roles for which he'll be remembered for many years to come.
Willy Wonka in "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory" - Probably in most people's Top 5 Children's Movies of all time, this film stars Gene as the titular character, and he does not disappoint from the first frame to the last. He sings, he dances, and he speaks in the riddle-like cadence that made Roald Dahl's book so beloved in the first place. Wilder's performance is so iconic in this film that when Tim Burton and Johnny Depp did their version, many just couldn't get over seeing anyone else play this role.
Jim in "Blazing Saddles" - When whoever is in charge of the universe put Mel Brooks and Wilder together, they did us all the biggest favor imaginable. In every collaboration the two had together, magic was truly made. In "Blazing Saddles," Wilder shows that he can downshift his persona, lay back, and still deliver side-splitting laughs, as Jim, the drunkard gunslinger who can still draw his gun at lightening speed. Easily considered one of the finest American comedies ever committed to celluloid, the film, and Gene's performance, belong in the Library of Congress.
Dr. Frankenstein in "Young Frankenstein" - Fans of his work will usually cite this film, or "Blazing Saddles" as being their favorite, and for good reason. Brooks and Wilder teamed up to deliver a film that was both an homage and a parody of the monster genre. The story of a relative of the famous doctor who created a monster, Wilder is absolutely, positively unhinged, and your face, sides and head will hurt by the end of the film from laughing from the opening scene to the very last. Please also don't forget, it's pronounced "Frahnk-en-steen."
More from This Contributor:Russell Brand Turns 37 - What's He Got Coming Up? here to start publishing your own articles