By now, you've probably heard that Gene Wilder passed away at 83, due to complications with Alzheimer's. The man is a legend, seriously. His brand of funny was like no one else's - smart, concise, and somehow we related to it.

I remember numerous "Friday night movies" in my house (we just went to Blockbuster and grabbed what we wanted), as a kid, that included Willy Wonka. We'd gather round the living room with plenty of popcorn, and beg my mom for chocolate - because, hey, we wanted some just as much as Augustus Gloop! By the time I was old enough to appreciate the humor, I was introduced to Young Frankenstein and the rest of his Mel Brooks exclusives.

He didn't have to try hard to make us believe in the character he played at all. Let's remember his best movies for a moment...

1) Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)


Is there a better family classic than Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory? This movie is a reminder that we're all children at heart. Gene played such a sensitive and silly Willy, that once we learned about his history, we were brought to tears when he made Charlie the new Wonka heir. We're all sensitive to something, and all want to be loved. Willy clearly wanted Charlie around.

2) Young Frankenstein (1974)


Gene Wilder played Dr. Frederick Frankenstein -  a flawed, eccentric man, that becomes obsessed with the idea of completing what his father started. He wants to create life. He wants total control. Can he do this while surrounded by "bumbling idiots"? ...turns out, he can! However, he shouldn't underestimate their importance. Dr. Frankenstein reminded us that we just want to be accepted for who we are.

3) Blazing Saddles (1974)


This role is awesome because, well, Gene's character (Jim, a drunk gunslinger) proved that even outcasts have value. He helps a community accept a new black sheriff, by showing them that they're only two people qualified to protect them from a group of bandits determined to have a railroad cut through their town.

4) See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989)


It doesn't get better than Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder - together! Again, Gene portrays a character who reminds us that though we're "different" we all have the same wants and needs. Gene plays a deaf man, while Richard is blind. They both use each others strengths to accomplish the same goal - survival.

5) The Producers (1967)


A Broadway staple that is still just as funny today as it was in the 60's, Gene plays Leo - a cunning accountant with "brilliant" ideas ...okay, he's a scam artist, but he's the best at what he does! He also admits failure. Who doesn't respect that?

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