Gene Wilder

Born June 11, 1933, in Milwaukee, Gene Wilder began his dramatic studies at the University of Iowa and continued them at England's Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. A talented fencer, he taught the sport to support himself as a struggling New York actor in the early 1960s.

It wasn't long, however, before Wilder became a Broadway regular in plays such as "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and in 1967, he made his feature film debut in Bonnie and Clyde. A year later, Wilder would begin the most successful collaboration of his career when he accepted the role of Leo Bloom in Mel Brooks's The Producers. Wilder continued to keep audiences in stitches for most of the '70s, first in Brooks's Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein and then with Richard Pryor in Silver Streak and Stir Crazy.

With the death of his wife, comedienne Gilda Radner, in 1989, Wilder withdrew largely from performing.