His acting career saw him appear in many of Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor films in Hollywood. He later retired from acting in 2003 and embarked on writing his memoir and other several books at the age of 58.
Gene Wilder Early Years
Gene Wilder was born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1933, in Wisconsin (Milwaukee).
At his tender age, Gene developed an interest in acting while watching his sister performing on stage. After a two year training, he landed his first stage role as Balthasar in a local film, Romeo, and Juliet.
Upon his graduation from the University of Iowa with a degree in Communications and Theater Arts, Wilder moved and settled in New York after serving in the US Army for two years.
In New York, he began pursuing his passion for acting while studying on scholarship at HB studios. Wilder earned his living from menial jobs among them working as a fencing instructor and a limousine driver.
Gene Wilder Career and Earnings
At the age of 26, he changed his name from Jerome Silberman to Gene Wilder to suit his acting career.
After several stage appearances, Wilder made his screen debut in 1961 TV series The Play of the Week but his ever first role in the film came in 1967 when he was cast in Bonnie and Clyde.
However, he only managed to land minor roles prior to meeting Mel Brooks, the filmmaker who gave his first leading role in the 1968 film, The Producers.
This was his breakthrough where he earned an Oscar Nomination for the Best Actor as well as winning the Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay. At that time, it is reported that he earned a salary of $10,000.
As a result, his breakthrough exposed him to numerous roles among them, Willy Wonka in the film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
The film gained a massive following where it came to be referred to as the Wilder’s signature role, hence the nickname, Willy Wonka’.
In the following films, things did not work well for Wilder and his box office failures came to a standstill with the Woody Allen film, Everything You Always Wanted to About S*x.
His next career besides acting was film-writing where he worked together with Mel Brooks to write several films.
Among them was the film Young Frankenstein which won an Oscar nomination for being the best-adapted-screenplay and it ended up earning over $86 million against its budget of $2 million.
The duo went on writing other films which wrecked a substantial amount of income and winning several awards.
Gene Wilder Family and His Death
At the time of his death, Wilder was survived by Karen Webb, his wife from 1991 marriage. But before, he had been married to Mary Joan Schutz for seven years (1967 to 1974) where he adopted her daughter, Katherine.
At the time of his death on August 29, 2016, at the age of 83, Gene Wilder’s net worth income was estimated at $20 million earned from many of his endeavors.