I first saw him in Blazing Saddles, playing the drunken sheriff and gunslinger, playing a gentle, humble, laid-back second banana role to Cleavon Little despite being the more established star.
Then he was Victor von Fronkensteen in Young Frankenstein, which I had the luck to see in the same week as Granada’s season of Frankenstein films had featured The Bride of Frankenstein, which meant I was fully au fait with all the gags and parodies.
And some time after that, I caught up with 1968’s The Producers, in which he played the nervous and law-abiding accountant enveigled by Zero Mostel into the most-sure fire fraud of all time, a film that provided me with one of my all time film moments, when he finally succumbs to Mostel’s blandishments, screaming “I’ll do it!” at the top of his voice as the lights and the fountains come on, in a moment as kitsch as all get out and bloody wonderful to watch.
These weren’t his only films, but they are the ones I went to in my imagination when I learned this evening that Gene Wilder was dead at the age of 83, of complications to do with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Another victim to this most greedy of years, another light gone out of the life of the world. Rest in Peace, Gene Wilder. There wasn’t a moment you rested in any of your great films, and they were always the better for it. Go do it.