HE WAS A TRUE ARTIST-AC­TOR

Empire (UK) - - ON SCREEN -

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.”

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