Gene Wilder Kept His Illness A Secret. The Reason Why Is Beautiful

August 30, 2016

Since the passing of Gene Wilder Monday morning, tributes have poured in for the actor's comedy genius and acting ability on screen.

At 83 years old, and still remembered fondly for his performance as Willy Wonka as well as in movies such as Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, his passing came as a surprise to fans as he'd chosen to keep his ill-health private.

gene wilder kept illness a secret
Photo: Paramount

In a statement issued by Wilder's nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, it has been revealed the legendary actor wanted to keep his Alzheimer's a private matter so that children who watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory would not associate his character with an adult disease.

The statement read:

"It is with indescribable sadness and blues, but with spiritual gratitude for the life lived that I announce the passing of husband, parents and universal artist Gene Wilder at his home in Stamford, Connecticut.

It is almost unbearable for us to contemplate our life without him.

We understand 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 recognise 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."

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