Gene Wilder Willy Wonka Dead
Courtesy of Paramount

News of actor Gene Wilder’s death spread quickly through Hollywood, with stars taking to Twitter to pay their respects to the comedy legend.

Wilder was best know for his role as Willy Wonka in the 1971 big screen version of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” He had memorable roles in Mel Brooks’ films “The Producers,” “Blazing Saddles,” and “Young Frankenstein.”

According to his nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, Wilder died from complications from Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Stamford, Conn. He was 83 years old. Walker-Pearlman described his final moments:

“He was eighty-three and passed holding our hands with the same tenderness and love he exhibited as long as I can remember. As our hands clutched and he performed one last breath the music speaker, which was set to random, began to blare out one of his favorites: Ella Fitzgerald. There is a picture of he and Ella meeting at a London Bistro some years ago that are among each or cherished possessions. She was singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” as he was taken away.”

Read some of the touching tributes to the actor below.

Longtime collaborator Mel Brooks said he was “blessed” to work with Wilder.

Wilder also played Will Truman’s boss on “Will & Grace” in 2003, his last role. Actor Eric McCormack called him a “genius.”

Wilder’s “Sunday Lovers” costar Roger Moore reminisced:

Fellow comedians praised Wilder’s talent as well.

“Orange is the New Black” star Uzo Aduba called him “the genius” and “the talent” among many other accolades, sentiments other stars echoed:

Gene Wilder Life and Career in Photos

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