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Things You Never Knew About Gene Wilder
Silberman, a manufacturer and salesman of novelty items. He asked her teacher if he could become his student, and the teacher said that if he were still interested at age 13, he would take Wilder on as a student. The day after Wilder turned 13, he called the teacher, who accepted him; Wilder studied with him for two years. He performed for the first time in front of a paying audience at age 15, as Balthasar Romeo 's servant in a production of Shakespeare 's Romeo and Juliet. Wilder was raised Jewish, but he held only the Golden Rule as his philosophy. In a book published in , he stated, "I have no other religion. I feel very Jewish and I feel very grateful to be Jewish. But I don't believe in God or anything to do with the Jewish religion". After six months of studying fencing, Wilder became the first freshman to win the All-School Fencing Championship. Wilder enrolled at the HB Studio. At the end of recruit training , he was assigned to the medical corps and sent to Fort Sam Houston for training. He was then given the opportunity to choose any post that was open, and wanting to stay near New York City to attend acting classes at the HB Studio, he chose to serve as paramedic in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Valley Forge Army Hospital , in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. He was discharged from the army a year later and returned to New York. A scholarship to the HB Studio allowed him to become a full-time student. At first living on unemployment insurance and some savings, he later supported himself with odd jobs such as a limousine driver and fencing instructor. Early career Wilder's first professional acting job was in Cambridge, Massachusetts , where he played the Second Officer in Herbert Berghof 's production of Twelfth Night. He also served as a fencing choreographer. Grodin persuaded him to leave the studio and begin studying with Strasberg in his private class. Several months later, Wilder was accepted into the Actors Studio. Feeling that "Jerry Silberman in Macbeth" did not have the right ring to it, he adopted a stage name. He also liked "Gene" because as a boy, he was impressed by a distant relative, a World War II bomber navigator who was "handsome and looked great in his leather flight jacket. Brooks elicited a promise from Wilder that he would check with him before making any long-term commitments. After three years of not hearing from Brooks, Wilder was called for a reading with Zero Mostel , who was to be the star of Springtime for Hitler and had approval of his co-star. Mostel approved, and Wilder was cast for his first leading role in a feature film, 's The Producers. Nevertheless, Brooks' first directorial effort did not do well at the box office and was not well received by all critics; New York Times critic Renata Adler reviewed the film and described it as "black college humor". Both men began searching for the perfect director for the film. Jean Renoir was the first candidate, but he would not be able to do the film for at least a year, so British-Indian director Waris Hussein was hired. After reciting some lines, director Mel Stuart immediately offered him the role. After he wrote a two-page scenario, he called Mel Brooks, who told him that it seemed like a "cute" idea, but showed little interest. Having just seen Feldman on television, Wilder was inspired to write a scene that takes place at Transylvania Station, where Igor and Frederick meet for the first time. The scene was later included in the film almost verbatim. Medavoy liked the idea and called Brooks, asking him to direct. Brooks was not convinced, but having spent four years working on two box-office failures, he decided to accept. When filming was about to begin in London, Wilder received an urgent call from Brooks, who was filming Blazing Saddles, offering Wilder the role of the "Waco Kid" after Dan Dailey dropped out at the last minute, while Gig Young became too ill to continue. Wilder accepted, but told the film's producers that he thought the only person who could keep the film from being offensive was Richard Pryor. Pryor accepted the role in the film, which had been renamed Silver Streak , the first film to team Wilder and Pryor. They became Hollywood's first successful interracial movie comedy duo. The film was to star John Wayne , but he dropped out and was replaced by Harrison Ford , then an up-and-coming actor. And, together, they are probably the funniest pair that's ever been on screen. Pryor was struggling with a severe cocaine addiction , and filming became difficult, but once the film premiered, it became an international success. Through the remainder of the decade, Wilder and Radner worked on several projects together. The Woman in Red was not well received by the critics, nor was their next project, 's Haunted Honeymoon , which failed to attract audiences. Many critics praised Wilder and Pryor, as well as Kevin Spacey 's performance, but they mostly agreed that the script was terrible. Roger Ebert called it "a real dud ";  the Deseret Morning News described the film as "stupid", with an "idiotic script" that had a "contrived story" and too many "juvenile gags",  while Vincent Canby called it "by far the most successful co-starring vehicle for Mr. Wilder", also acknowledging that "this is not elegant movie making, and not all of the gags are equally clever". Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. November Learn how and when to remove this template message After starring as a political cartoonist who falls in love in the film Funny About Love , Wilder performed in one final movie with Pryor, the feature Another You , in which Pryor's physical deterioration from multiple sclerosis was clearly noticeable. Wilder's remaining work consisted of television movies and guest appearances in TV shows. He went back to the small screen in , appearing in three television movies, one of which was the NBC adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Stein, Will Truman 's boss. Although the couple had not been together long, they married on July 22, They spent long periods of time apart, eventually divorcing in A few months later, Wilder began dating Mary Joan Schutz, a friend of his sister. Schutz had a daughter, Katharine, from a previous marriage. When Katharine started calling Wilder "Dad", he decided to do what he felt was "the right thing to do",  marrying Schutz on October 27, , and adopting Katharine that same year. Schutz and Wilder separated after seven years of marriage, with Katharine suspecting that Wilder was having an affair with his Young Frankenstein co-star, Madeline Kahn. After the divorce, he briefly dated his other Frankenstein co-star, Teri Garr. Wilder eventually became estranged from Katharine. Radner was married to guitarist G. Smith at the time, but Wilder and she became inseparable friends. When the filming of Hanky Panky ended, Wilder found himself missing Radner, so he called her. The relationship grew, and Radner eventually divorced Smith in She moved in with Wilder, and the couple married on September 14, , in the south of France. The couple wanted to have children, but Radner suffered miscarriages , and doctors could not determine the problem. After experiencing severe fatigue and suffering from pain in her upper legs on the set of Haunted Honeymoon, Radner sought medical treatment. Following a number of false diagnoses, she was found to have ovarian cancer in October Radner died on May 20, Webb coached him in lip reading. Political views In , Wilder stated, "I'm quietly political. I don't like advertising. Giving money to someone or support, but not getting on a bandstand. I don't want to run for president in I will write another book instead. Wilder himself was hospitalized with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in , but confirmed in March that the cancer was in complete remission following chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. My Search for Love and Art, an account of his life covering everything from his childhood up to Radner's death. Gene Wilder, where Alec Baldwin interviewed Wilder about his career, Wilder said that he was basically retired from acting for good. A Perilous Romance, was released in April I get 52 movies a year sent to me, and maybe there are three good [ones]. That's why I went into writing. It's not that I wouldn't act again. I'd say, 'Give me the script. If it's something wonderful, I'll do it. He had kept knowledge of his condition private, but had been diagnosed three years prior to his death. He simply couldn't bear the idea of one less smile in the world.
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