Best known for his legendary roles in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, Gene Wilder‘s twinkly-eyed Chaplin-esque charm and frequent Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor collaborations cemented his reputation as a comedy icon. Five years on from his passing, he’s remembered for the madcap magic and bedeviling brilliance of his timeless on-screen characters.
A dedicated reader and author of five titles centered on love and romance, Wilder shared some of his all-time favorite books with The Week back in 2016. From Fitzgerald and Hemingway to Márquez and Miller, find his reading list below.
Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh edited by Irving Stone
“The letters of my favorite painter to his younger brother Theo. Van Gogh gives an insight into his creative process, which I found fascinating. I carried this book with me for many years and it always gave me courage when I was depressed.” -GW
Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Primarily a psychological tangle, this story is about a doctor who helps a seriously neurotic young woman, and they fall in love and marry. He ends up a wreck and she ends up quite sane and normal. It’s very moving.” -GW
“This love story set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War is on my list of all-time greats. Hemingway’s definition of courage was grace under pressure, and that’s what this book exemplifies.” -GW
The Notebooks of Captain Georges by Jean Renoir
“My favorite book of all, and it’s written by a film director. Renoir’s novel is a romantic story about a rich Frenchman who, as a young man, fell in love with a prostitute. He kept his love secret, but wrote about it in his private notebooks. When he is old and ill the notebooks are unearthed and published.” -GW
“An epic love story about a man who loves the same woman for 50 years. She marries another, but when she’s old and a widow they meet again and find they’re still in love. A sad, romantic, and beautifully written story.” -GW
Timebends by Arthur Miller
“The late, great playwright’s autobiography answered so many questions I wanted to know, such as the details of his falling out with his close friend, Elia Kazan, and what really happened when he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee and refused to name names.” -GW
(via The Week)