Aside from acting, Gene Wilder’s prolific talents extended to being a film director, screenwriter and author. Known for his neurotic, animated acting, Wilder’s partnerships with Mel Brooks (The Producers, Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles) and Richard Pryor (Silver Streak, Stir Crazy and See No Evil, Hear No Evil), yielded some of his most unforgettable work.
His first big break came in 1968, as Leopold Boom in The Producers, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Wilder directed a number of his own work, most notably 1984’s The Woman in Red. After his last acting role in Will & Grace in 2003, Wilder transitioned his focus to writing with a memoir, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art, writing several subsequent novels after its release in 2005.
“My quiet exterior used to be a mask for hysteria,” Wilder told TIME in 1970, “After seven years of analysis, it just became a habit.”