In a year that has already taken from us so many impossibly strong creative forces, Gene Wilder passed away today at the age of 83.
Like Bowie and Prince, who also passed this year, Wilder was more than an entertainer; he was a shaper. He shaped our minds and our dreams. With so many of us finding his films at a young age and carrying them with us throughout our lives, the degree to which he shaped our existence and our view of the world is immeasurable.
There is so much to say about this incredible human, about the joy and artistry he brought to the world, that it’s simply overwhelming. So for this moment, I just want to share the description his son, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, gave of Wilder’s last moments. No more perfect moment, more perfect ending could possibly have existed for a man whose whole existence was dedicated to creating magic.
The death of anyone, let alone such a powerfully influential man, is going to hurt. But let’s try to take a tiny bit of comfort in knowing that he had 83 incredible years here with us, and that his last moments on Earth were as beautiful as anyone could ever hope.
He was eighty-three and passed holding our hands with the same tenderness and love he exhibited as long as I can remember. As our hands clutched and he performed one last breath the music speaker, which was set to random, began to blare out one of his favorites: Ella Fitzgerald. There is a picture of he and Ella meeting at a London Bistro some years ago that are among each or cherished possessions. She was singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” as he was taken away.
If you have it in you— and make sure you do before you hit play— here’s Ella Fitzgerald’s “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”
Rest in peace, Gene. Rest in laughter.