HE WAS A TRUE ARTIST-ACTOR
Mike Medavoy, Gene Wilder’s one-time agent, remembers his time with the actor
“I first met Gene in the clothing store Carroll & Co, a place in beverly Hills that sells suits and ties. We were both browsing, so I went up and introduced myself. We talked a little bit and I asked him what changes he wanted to have in his career. He said he wanted to write and eventually direct. A short while later, I had taken him on as a client and suggested he do something with marty Feldman and Peter boyle. mel brooks got added to the package, wrote a script with Gene, and that became Young Frankenstein. Columbia passed on the project, but Alan Ladd Jr at Fox green-lit it. The rest is history.
Gene and I played tennis together often. He was just a lovely, sweet guy, always warm, though he had moments of being non-communicative about his feelings. He wasn’t really interested in the business side of things; he was a true artist-actor. He wasn’t some stupid person that didn’t know what was going on, but there was a modesty to him, too. often these people start behaving in a certain way: “I’m a star. I want to be treated as such.” Gene never had any of that. He stayed humble.
I last talked to him about six months ago, on the phone. He was in Connecticut and I was in Los Angeles. I would never have guessed that he was sick — he didn’t seem sick at all. We chatted just like we did in that clothing store, all those years back.”