CT remembers Stamford resident, comedian Gene Wilder - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT remembers Stamford resident, comedian Gene Wilder

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The governor tweeted "Gene Wilder was a legend, who brought joy to many. He was a longtime CT resident & worldwide icon." (@GovMalloyOffice) The governor tweeted "Gene Wilder was a legend, who brought joy to many. He was a longtime CT resident & worldwide icon." (@GovMalloyOffice)

Connecticut remembered the work and life of comedic actor Gene Wilder after his passing on Monday. 

Wilder died of complications of Alzheimer's disease at his home in Stamford, according to The Associated Press. 

The actor was known for a string of iconic roles in the '60s, '70s and '80s, including leads in The ProducersBlazing SaddlesYoung Frankenstein and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Gov. Dannel Malloy called Wilder "a legend" and said the longtime Connecticut resident "will be missed." 

"The Avon has lost an irreplaceable member of our family with the passing of Gene Wilder.  Gene was an icon, a hero and a star to everyone - none more than to those of us at the Avon Theatre," Adam Birnbaum, Director of Business Development and Film Programming at the Avon Theatre, said in an email on Monday. 

Wilder lived just ten minutes away from the Avon Theatre. Birnbaum said the theatre had a series called "Wilder's Picks," which featured his classic films. Since 2004, the series allowed fans to screen one of his movies with him before a question and answer session with the iconic actor. 

"His commentary was fresh, original, insightful and funny. Together with Karen, who often interviewed Gene, once a year he treated us to one of his own films. Devoted fans traveled from all across North America to be there with this amazing man," Birnbaum said. 

 Birnbaum called Wilder a "wonderful human being."  

"While it has always been apparent to the world that Gene was blessed with acting, writing and comedic abilities that made him an extremely rare talent, our relationship with Gene enabled us to learn that he was also a wonderful human being - kind, humble, engaging, gracious and genuine.  We are heartbroken at his passing but know that what he has given to us all will last forever," Birnbaum said. 

Bill and Rita Gerardi reflected on the loss of Wilde, who was their neighbor of 30 years.

"I always wanted to reintroduce myself to him because you never knew if he remembered you and he said of course I know who you are," Rita Gerardi said. 

Even though he was known for his movie roles, residents said it was how Wilder was off-screen that made an even greater impression on those he met.

"You didn't think he was really anything famous because he blended in," Bill Gerardi said. "He was a regular guy who wanted to be a neighbor."

Wilder was diagnosed with Alzheimers three years ago, but chose to keep the condition private, so fans would remember him for his lighthearted roles.

"He's been sick for quite awhile," Rita Gerardi said. "You know everyone has their time I guess."

Many will remember Wilder was married to Gilda Radner until she passed away in 1989. He's survived by his wife, Karen whom he married in 1991.

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