Mel Brooks' Heartache Over Gene Wilder's Alzheimer's Struggle

Legendary comedian Mel Brooks reflects on friendship and loss

by Zain ul Abedin
Mel Brooks' Heartache Over Gene Wilder's Alzheimer's Struggle
© Bruce Glikas/Getty Images

In a poignant homage to the late Gene Wilder, celebrated comedian and filmmaker Mel Brooks opens up about his emotional struggle upon learning of Wilder's Alzheimer's diagnosis. Their enduring friendship, dating back to the 1960s, forged a creative partnership that birthed iconic films such as "The Producers," "Blazing Saddles," and "Young Frankenstein." Brooks, now 97 years old, reminisces about their bond and the heartache of witnessing Wilder's decline in the recent documentary, "Remembering Gene Wilder." Brooks candidly shares his futile attempts to alleviate Wilder's memory lapses by inundating him with references, hoping to jolt him out of the grip of Alzheimer's.

However, as Wilder's condition worsened, communication became increasingly challenging, leaving Brooks emotionally devastated. He reflects on the profound sadness he experienced, often moved to tears by the reality of Wilder's struggle.

Karen Boyer, Wilder's widow, also lends her voice to the documentary, recalling the early signs of his memory loss, notably his difficulty in recalling titles of beloved films like "Young Frankenstein." She reveals that Wilder chose to keep his diagnosis private, a decision rooted in his desire not to sadden his devoted fans.

Remembering Gene Wilder: A Tribute

Brooks pays tribute to Wilder's vibrant spirit and infectious laughter, reminiscing about the joy of sharing comedic moments that would leave Wilder doubled over in laughter. He laments the loss of their banter, emphasizing the genuine connection they shared both on and off screen.

"Remembering Gene Wilder" weaves together interviews with Brooks, Boyer, and other notable figures such as Harry Connick Jr., Carol Kane, and Alan Alda. Narration from Wilder himself, drawn from his memoir "Kiss Me Like a Stranger," provides a poignant backdrop to his life story, encompassing his upbringing, career highlights, and personal relationships, including his marriages to Boyer and the late Gilda Radner.

As the documentary unfolds on the silver screen, audiences are invited to celebrate the enduring legacy of Gene Wilder, whose brilliance continues to shine through the memories of those who knew and loved him.