Actor Gene Wilder died on Monday at the age of 83, leaving behind his beloved wife Karen Boyer. The two had a beautiful relationship that spanned 25 years.
Boyer and Wilder were married in 1991, but it was a relationship that Wilder wasn’t expecting. The actor, who is best known for his roles in “Willy Wonky & The Chocolate Factory” and “Young Frankenstein,” was married three times prior. He married his first wife, Mary Mercier, in 1960 and divorced her in 1965. Two years later he wed Mary Joan Schut, and separated from her in 1974. By 1982 he fell in love with original “Saturday Night Live” cast member Gilda Radner, who he had met on the set of “Hanky Panky.” Although hesitant to get married again, the two tied the knot in 1982, and stayed loyal to each other until her death from ovarian cancer in 1989.
Wilder, whose birth name is Jerome Silberman, was heartbroken after the death of Radner. However, he met a woman named Karen Webb that same year that changed everything. The actor revealed on “Larry King Live” in 2002 that he went to the New York League for the Hard of Hearing to do research for the 1989 film “See No Evil, Hear No Evil.” It was there that he first saw Karen.
“Out comes this vision in lavender and pink and a little blue, and they said this is Karen Webb. This is Gene Wilder. She takes me into this room to see what I could get from lip reading — speech reading they call it — by looking at a monitor. I guessed what she was saying. Then we lowered it to about this and I had to guess some more. And then they just did her lips. And I guessed. And after it was done, I said pretty good. I said fair.”
He was initially attracted to her, but by their third meeting he was in love.
“It was like a flower that’s blooming,” he explained to Larry King. “I went out a second time with her to a restaurant with a tape recorder. And the third time I said leave the tape recorder at home. And that’s the time I was in love. And then we got married 10 years later.
Wilder and his wife were photographed last September at the US Open grand slam. Despite looking frail, the actor had a smile on his face as he held Boyer’s hand.