SAN FRANCISCO (KRON/CNN) — From “The Producers” to “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factor,” Gene Wilder was known for the comic nervous breakdown, the character that always seemed seconds away from a shrieking, totally manic fit.
Wilder excelled at moments of explosive rage or sheer desperation. He often worked with Mel Brooks, providing the perfect expression of Brooks’ directing style, which reveled in over-the-top absurdity.
Wilder had also worked in more serious roles, and he could ground his zaniness in a way that gave them heft. That was certainly true of perhaps his most iconic performance apart from his collaborations with Brooks, playing the title character in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
He also turned out to have a strong on-screen rapport with comedian Richard Pryor, with whom he co-starred in multiple films, most memorably “Stir Crazy” and “Silver Streak.”
Wilder left behind an abundance of comedies destined to be watched and re-watched for years to come. But in terms of his signature bits and movies, no list would be complete without these entries:
The Producers (1968)
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)
CNN contributed to this report