Something Wilder (1994–1995)
Wilder was well into his thirties before the first big break came along in 1967, in the classic film “Bonnie and Clyde.” From there he was able to trade in his frizzy-haired persona in his co-starring role in Mel Brook’s “The Producers” (1968). It was his collaboration with Brooks that certified his legacy, with one-two punch of “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein” in 1974. He was also held in high regard by a generation of children with his classic turn as the title character in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” (1971).
Pure Imagination: Gene Wilder in ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate
The actor was born Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1943 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Jeanne (Baer) and William J. Silberman, who worked as a manufacturer of miniature whiskey and beer bottles. He made his professional acting debut in the 1961 off Broadway adaptation of Roots, before making his Broadway debut later that year in The Complaisant Lover. He won the Clement Derwent Award that year as the most promising newcomer. He also starred in the 1963 play Mother Courage and Her Children, alongside Anne Bancroft, who would become Mel Brooks' wife, which would change his life forever.
Wilder was known for roles in several Mel Brooks big-screen comedies, including Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, as well as playing the title part in the 1971 adaptation of Willy Wonky & the Chocolate Factory.
His television credits included the sitcom Something Wilder, which aired on NBC from 1994-95, TV movies including Thursday’s Game and a 1962 production of Death of a Salesman,
According to the site, their source claims that Wilder is wanted to lend his voice to The Bfg, which would be his second Roald Dahl project after the classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. They also speculate that the role could be that of James Halliday in the recently-confirmed adaptation of Ready Player One.
Wilder officially retired from the screen in 2008, while he last appearance came in 2003 with a guest role in Will & Grace. Although he’d appeared in a few TV movies and the short-lived sitcom Something Wilder, his last big screen outing came in 1991 when he starred alongsdie Richard Pryor in Another You.
Written by Paul Simms
Directed by James Burrows
Aired 3/21/1995 on NBC
Airing as a mid-season replacement after the failure of The Martin Short Show and the Gene Wilder vehicle Something Wilder, it still boggles me to this day that NewsRadio wasn’t more popular in its time. Debuting between Wings and Frasier (two shows it would often be sandwiched between over the years), NewsRadio never achieved the same mainstream penetration as other seminal NBC comedies from the same era, teetering on the edge of cancellation and ending in tragedy, airing a creative but deflated fifth season in the shadow of Phil Hartman’s murder.
Revisiting NewsRadio‘s pilot, it still astounds me the show never took off. Mixing farce with hilarious ironies, the pilot opens with Wnyx’s new news director Dave Nelson (a post-Kidz in the Hall Dave Foley) arriving (approximately) 35 seconds early to
The “School’s Out” star plays himself in Burton’s big budget adaptation of the bizarre,
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