Actor Gene Wilder pronounced dead at 83 after complications with Alzheimer’s

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Actor Gene Wilder, best known for his role as Willy Wonka in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” was pronounced dead Sunday evening at the age of 83. His family released the news Monday. 

In a statement released by his family, they explained that Wilder passed away after complications with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Related Link: Full list of Gene Wilder movies and TV shows

" … 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. It took enough, but not that."

Wilder was Oscar nominated twice, once for his role in “The Producers” and for his role in "Young Frankenstein” with Mel Brooks.

According to the New York Times, Wilder’s film debut was in the 1967, Arthur Penn’s celebrated crime drama, “Bonnie and Clyde,” in which he was memorably hysterical as an undertaker kidnapped by bank robbers played by Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. 

In 1971, he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role as the wacky and eccentric, Willy Wonka. 

According to the New York Times, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” didn’t do well upon it’s release, but quickly gained a following and remains a beloved classic.

According to Variety, Wilder was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1989.

"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 company of beloved ones," wrote his nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman. 

In a statement to CNN on Monday, Brooks called Wilder "one of the truly great talents of our time."

"He blessed every film we did with his magic and he blessed me with his friendship," Brooks wrote.

"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," wrote Walker-Pearlman.

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