Gene Wilder aka ‘Willy Wonka’ passes away: His reason for not disclosing illness will make you smile

  • Nephew of iconic American actor said he died from bout with Alzheimer’s disease
  • He also disclosed reason why uncle never disclosed his illness publicly
  • He said Wilder wanted to keep making children smile without making them worry about his problem

Darn, those ninjas are cutting onions again.

Amid the death of Gene Wilder, aka the beloved ‘Willy Wonka’ in the famous movie adaptation of the children’s classic ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, his nephew explained why the iconic American actor chose not to go public with the disease that affected and ultimately took his life.

According to Jordan Walker-Pearlman, Wilder (Jerome Silberman in real life) chose not to announce his affliction with Alzheimer’s disease because he wanted to make children who recognized him as Willy Wonka happy without making them worry about an adult problem.

“The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him ‘there’s Willy Wonka’ would not have to be exposed as 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,” he said.

Pearlman added that Wilder was not affected as much by the disease as other sufferers and lived his life to the fullest in the last 25 years.

“He continued to enjoy art, music, and kissing with his leading lady of the last twenty-five years, Karen. He danced down a church aisle at a wedding as parent of the groom and ring bearer, held countless afternoon movie western marathons and delighted in the company of beloved ones,” he said.

Pearlman also revealed that his uncle’s death was a peaceful one.

“He was eighty-three and passed holding our hands with the same tenderness and love he exhibited as long as I can remember,” he said. “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 cherish possessions. She was singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” as he was taken away.”