Best known as the star and titular character in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Wilder was revered for comedic roles throughout his career, including in cult hits Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles.
According to AP, Wilder died from complications related to Alzheimer's disease late Sunday night. His nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, released a statement regarding his uncle's death that will only further break your heart and cement your love for the comedic genius.
“We understand for all the emotional and physical challenges this situation presented we have been among the lucky ones — this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality," Walker-Pearlman told Variety. "The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him 'there’s Willy Wonka,' would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world."
Frequent collaborator and longtime friend Mel Brooks tweeted a tribute to Wilder soon after the news broke Monday.