Something pretty interesting happened to me yesterday. I started getting emails and texts about the death of Gene Wilder, like he was a family member. It started out kind of funny, but it was actually pretty sincere. A couple of pats on the back. A few people asked if I was OK. It’s true, and I gather pretty obvious, that I was obsessed with him.
He was the mentor I never met. I’d put up his quotes around the office. I wanted some of his magic to rub off on me. On all of us. I’d like to think it did.
I’ve never given a eulogy to somebody I never met, but that in itself seems fitting. I think he’d approve of its ridiculousness.
I went to see Mel Brooks speak after viewing The Producers. The original, of course. Mel told a story about how he had to fight to get Gene the role of Leo Bloom. He was not your typical lead actor. Mel knew that, but saw his genius and refused to produce the movie without him.
Mel Brooks coincidentally was Gene Wilder’s mentor. But now we’re getting away from the point.
Which is this: thank you, Mr. Wilder. For your inspiration and creativity and bravery and stupidity. For never doing the expected and always finding the truth in your work. May your legacy live on forever.
Good day, Mr. Wilder. Parting is such sweet sorrow.