Legendary comic actor Gene Wilder died late Sunday in his Stamford, Conn. home after a three-year battle with Alzheimer's disease . He was 83 years old.
Wilder is beloved and remembered for his iconic role as Willy Wonka in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," as well as his starring turn in the Mel Brooks classics "Blazing Saddles," "The Producers," and "Young Frankenstein" (which he co-wrote).
Few were aware of Wilder's battle with Alzheimer's disease. In a statement, Wilder's nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman said the decision to keep the condition under wraps was made "so that the countless young children who 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."
Many of his fans, including Jimmy Kimmel, took to social media on Monday after the news broke and paid their respects:
Gene Wilder was the best.— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) August 29, 2016
Wilder is survived by his wife, Karen Webb.