Inside Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder, 'Willy Wonka' star, dead at 83

Actor Gene Wilder died Monday, the Associated Press reported.

Wilder, who was born Jerome Silberman, played Willy Wonka in the 1971 film version of "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" and in dozens of other productions, including "Death of a Salesman," "Young Frankenstein," "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Blazing Saddles."

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The actor and comedian was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on June 11, 1933, to a Jewish family. His father was a Russian immigrant, and his mother suffered from rheumatic heart disease. He is said to have begun his acting career when he put on different accents as a way to make his mother laugh.

He embraced his stage name at the age of 26 after saying that he "couldn't quite see a marquee reading 'Jerry Silberman as Macbeth,'" according to Biography.

Wilder's nephew said Monday that the actor died of complications from Alzheimer's disease, the AP reported.

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Wilder married actress Gilda Radner in 1984; she died of ovarian cancer in 1989.

Wilder is survived by a daughter, whom he adopted in 1967 while he was married to her mother, Mary Joan Schute, according to TMZ.

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