Sad news came today as legendary comedian Gene Wilder passed away at the age of 83. The actor's nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, confirmed that the cause of death was complications from Alzheimer's Disease. As news of this comedy legend's passing continues to spread, we have more details from Jordan Walker-Pearlman about his uncle's final moments, while several members of the Hollywood community have honored Gene Wilder through social media.
Along with several Twitter tributes, Jordan Walker-Pearlman released a full statement about his uncle's passing. It was never made public that the actor was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, a decision that was made by both the actor and his family. Here's how his nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman had to say about why it was never revealed that Gene Wilder suffered from Alzheimer's Disease.
"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."
Gene Wilder passed at his home in Stamford, Connecticut earlier today, with Jordan Walker-Pearlman stating that it's "almost unbearable to contemplate our life without him." The actor is survived by his wife of more than 25 years, Karen, his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman, a writer-director who has made Constellation, The Visit and Snow Taxi, and Jordan's wife Elizabeth. The actor's sister Corrine preceded him in death this past January. Here's the rest of Jordan Walker-Pearlman's statement.
"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 the company of beloved ones. He was eighty-three and passed holding our hands with the same tenderness and love he exhibited as long as I can remember. As our hands clutched and he performed one last breath the music speaker, which was set to random, began to blare out one of his favorites: Ella Fitzgerald. There is a picture of he and Ella meeting at a London Bistro some years ago that are among each or cherished possessions. She was singing 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow,' as he was taken away."
Below we have collected an assembly of Twitter tributes, including one from his longtime collaborator, Mel Brooks. Many of today's comedy stars fondly remember his legendary collaborations with Richard Pryor such as Stir Crazy, See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Another You in their tributes. As of now, it isn't known if there will be a public memorial where fans can pay their respects to the actor, but we'll be sure to keep you posted as soon as more details surface. In the meantime, take a look at these tweets from numerous Hollywood luminaries, paying their respects to Gene Wilder.