With his wild, curly hair and wide blue eyes, Gene Wilder can’t help but leave an indelible impression. And the comedian, who turns 80 today, has been so vibrant in his various roles — on stage and screen, as a writer, director and singer — that it’s easy to forget that he hasn’t appeared in a TV show or film for over 10 years. Yet his characters and movies — as well as personal life struggles — remain some of the industry’s most unforgettable.
Born Jerome Silberman, Wilder was in his 30s by the time he broke through, thanks to some classic pairings: First in Mel Brooks-written comedies “The Producers” (1968) “Blazing Saddles” (1974) and “Young Frankenstein” (1974), then as half of a yin-yang comedy duo with Richard Pryor in films like “Silver Streak” (1976) and “Stir Crazy” (1980).
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