When someone as brilliant and talented as Gene Wilder dies, their loss extends across our country, and around the globe. To so many of us who grew up during a specific time period, losing Gene Wilder is akin to losing a family member, as we were raised on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, then snuck viewings of Blazing Saddles, Stir Crazy or The Woman in Red when our parents weren't looking. As news of Wilder's passing was carried around the Internet, several who worked with him, or were touched by him, weighed in with beautiful tributes on social media -- though none were quite as important as the message posted by Wilder's longtime collaborator, Mel Brooks:
Brooks and Wilder collaborated on some of the film industry's smartest and funniest comedies, perfecting social satire in razor sharp features such as Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and The Producers. They refined Wilder's comedic voice, and gave birth to a new wave of brave and challenging comedies that continue to inspire writers and filmmakers to this day. Like Marvel director James Gunn:
And the equally brilliant Edgar Wright:
Other celebrities moved by Gene Wilder's fearlessness as a performer singled out his collaborations with the late Richard Pryor. Silver Streak and Stir Crazy were envelope-pushing comedy classics, as acknowledged by Adam Scott and Questlove:
But the bulk of the tributes remembered Gene Wilder's unforgettable turn as Willy Wonka. Read the rest of those touching tributes on the next page.
Often, when a talent as rare as Gene Wilder rolls around, people assume they are not of this world. Which sums up Olivia Wilde's sweet summation of Gene Wilder's brilliant career:
So many others on social media were overwhelmed by Wilder's contributions to their childhood memories. Like Josh Gad, for example:
And even guitarist and reality TV star Dave Navarro:
Which goes to show how far Wilder's influence stretched through the entertainment industry. But I think the finest tribute to Gene Wilder came from Ricky Gervais, who used one of Wilder's own lines to bid him farewell:
You will be missed, Gene Wilder. More than we could ever express.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.