Gene Wilder Most Memorable Quotes

Gene Wilder chose to keep his Alzheimer’s diagnosis secret

In a statement following announcements of the death of actor Gene Wilder, Jordan Walker-Pearlman confirmed his uncle’s passing in an emotional statement.

“It is almost unbearable for us to contemplate our life without him,” Pearlman wrote.

>>Photos: Gene Wilder through the years

According to Wilder’s nephew, Wilder died from complications from Alzheimer’s disease, which he lived with for the last three years of his life.

Pearlman went on to explain why the public was first hearing of Wilder’s condition after his passing.

“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,” Pearlman wrote. “He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.”

>>MORE: Gene Wilder dead at 83

According to Mr. Pearlman, Wilder was listening to a recording of Ella Fitzgerald singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” when he died.

He was 83 years old.

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