Gene Wilder Dead: Hollywood Pays Tribute To 'Willy Wonka' Actor

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The news of Hollywood legend Gene Wilder's death Monday was greeted with shock by his legion of fans and fellow stars, who took to social media to voice their sorrow.

The star of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" had a body of work spanning five decades, including some of Mel Brook's best-known comedies, as well as two Oscar nominations and an Emmy Award.

Here are some of the tributes from his numerous well-known admirers.

Mel Brooks

"Gene Wilder — One of the truly great talents of our time. He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship," the director said on Twitter.

Rain Pryor

"Forever a great comedy film duo Dad and #GeneWilder RIP," tweeted Rain Pryor, the daughter of Richard Pryor, who enjoyed a long comedy acting partnership with Wilder.

She explained on Facebook that the pair were never particularly close off screen, although they "saw each other's genius and created hit films and were the best comedy film friends of all time."

"Gene was a true grown-up and I never saw him party. Dad was younger and we all know, he liked to party," she added.

"The two together accepted the other. However, nothing could beat their magic on screen nor ever will."

gene wilder

Will and Grace

In 1997, Wilder guest-starred on two episodes of NBC's "Will and Grace," winning an Emmy Award for outstanding guest actor on a comedy series for his role as Mr Stein, Will Truman's boss.

Eric McCormack, who played Will, tweeted that Wilder was "a genius I stole from constantly, and one I was humbled & thrilled to work with."

"I can't say what it meant to act with him and get to know his heart," tweeted Debra Messing, who played Grace, describing Wilder as "a man who lit up the world with his joy and genius."

Hollywood

"Gene Wilder (was) one of my earliest heroes. Blazing Saddles, Willy Wonka, are CLINICS on comic acting. Sad to hear of his passing," said Hollywood A-lister Rob Lowe.

Australian "Gladiator" star Russell Crowe tweeted: "I saw Blazing Saddles 7 times at the cinema with my school friends... Gene Wilder you were a genius. "

British comedian, actor and writer Stephen Fry thanked Wilder "for all those happy happy hours," describing him as a "comic genius," while "Frozen" actor Josh Gad said he was "the greatest comedic mind of my childhood."

"RIP Gene Wilder & thank you 4 your pure imagination," he added, in a reference to one of the "Willy Wonka" songs.

Gad, who appeared in Broadway musical "Book of Mormon," also offered a lengthy tribute on Instagram, describing Wilder as "one of a kind."

gene wilder willy wonka

"His ability to turn a phrase was unlike anything I've ever seen. Whether he was channeling uncontained chaos in 'Young Frankenstein' or controlled nuance in 'Willy Wonka,' he was always a supernova of unmatched energy on screen," Gad wrote.

"He dared you to take his eyes off him and we the audience always lost the bet."

"Vinyl" actress Olivia Wilde said "thanks for stopping by Earth for a while," while director Kevin Smith described him as "the face of childhood joy for many a generation."

The numerous actors, filmmakers and other personalities to pay tribute to Wilder also included John Cusack, Ricky Gervais, Elizabeth Banks, Albert Brooks, James Urbaniak, Larry Wilmore, Alan Tudyk and Uzo Aduba.

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