Gene Wilder’s Touching Alzheimer’s Secret

Gene Wilder decided to keep secret his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, because he did not want children to be upset that “Willy Wonka” was ill.

In recent years, Hollywood legend rarely made public appearances. And in his last days, Wilder was so frail that it was almost unrecognizable.

His fans remember him as the ingenious stars, hilarious Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

However, in the last years of his life, his fragile health did not allow him to continue acting. On Sunday, he died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at age 83 and only his family and closest friends knew he was fighting the disease.

Willie Wonka star Gene Wilder kept his Alzheimer’s diagnosis secret out of concern for his young fans.

Gene Wilder in New York last year and, as Willy Wonka
Photo: Daily Mirror

cancer Gene Wilder’s nightmare

it was cancer, not Alzheimer’s, which had been the biggest medical problem Wilder. He lost his beloved mother to ovarian cancer in 1957. His wife, Saturday Night Live star Gilda Radner died of the same disease in 1989. 1 same Wilder was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 1999. He underwent chemotherapy and stem cell transplant.

In 2005, was declared cancer free. “I’m in complete remission,” he told Larry King. “I am alive and well.” 2

But his thin appearance in recent months led to speculation the cancer had returned. 3 When he attended tennis tournament US Open in New York last year, seemed to have aged rapidly and had lost weight.

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However, his fourth wife, Karen Boyer, insisted it was still free of cancer. “The cancer has not returned,” he said. “He is as active as any man his age can be. He still gets away.”

However, he was battling Alzheimer’s disease secret, disclose their status to only a few people around him.

Surprisingly, even in the final stages of dementia, Wilder could still remember the names of those around him. Alzheimer’s disease “Never stole his ability to recognize those who were closest to him,” said his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman.

4 Ways to Stave Off Alzheimer’s disease

How to handle this Wilder? Studies have shown several ways to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease

  • Play free brain games. These are specially designed for computer games. As weightlifting exercise the muscles, these games exercise their memory. Popular brands include Lumosity, Memory of the jungle, and BrainHQ.
  • Stay social. Multiple studies show that older people who are socially active are mentally sharper. 4 Be active in your church, seeing his friends often get involved with your family … everything that brings face to face with other people.

Shortly after his death, his nephew said Wilder decided to keep his condition secret because of concern for their young fans. He wanted children to smile when they saw him. I did not want them to be sad when told that the man who played Willy Wonka had Alzheimer’s disease.

“The decision to wait until now to reveal his condition was not vanity, but even more than the countless young children who smile or scream at him ‘There Willy Wonka,’ should not be then exposed to an adult referring to the disease, “Walker-Pearlman said.

“I just could not bear the thought of one minus the smile in the world.”

Gene Wilder brought a lot of extra smiles to everyone who saw his films.

If you or someone you love is concerned about Alzheimer’s disease, there is something else I should know.

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In good health,

Angela Salerno
Executive Director, INH Health Observatory

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