Gene Wilder’s widow reveals movie icon’s touching last words nearly eight years after his passing

Gene Wilder's widow reveals the actor's last word before his death in 2016. Source: Getty Images.

Nearly eight years have passed since the world lost the legendary Gene Wilder, now his wife, Karen Boyer, has shed light on his poignant farewell in a groundbreaking documentary, Remembering Gene Wilder.

With candour and grace, Boyer shares intimate details of their final days together, offering a touching tribute to her beloved husband of 25 years.

“The music was playing in the background – Ella Fitzgerald was singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and I was lying next to him and he sat up in bed and he said, ‘I trust you’,” Boyer says in the documentary which launched last year.

“And then he said, ‘I love you.’ That’s the last thing he said.”

Wilder enjoyed a long and illustrious acting career including winning a prestigious Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for The Producers (1969), a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding guest actor in Will & Grace (2003) as well as an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor in The Producers.

One of his most iconic films was Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) where he played Roald Dahl’s eccentric, whimsical and unforgettable Willy Wonka who tests the moral character of five children lucky enough to win a ticket to see his chocolate factory. 

Wilder was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s just three years before his death. As he requested, the star’s family kept his diagnosis private until the star passed away at the age of 83.

Married in 1991, Boyer was Wilder’s fourth wife but has been described as the “love of his life”. In Remembering Gene Wilder, she recalled noticing his memory loss after he struggled to remember the title of one of his greatest movies, Young Frankenstein (1974).

“He never really accepted that he had Alzheimer’s, and maybe by the time we found out that’s what it was, his hippocampus didn’t let him remember,” Boyer says.

“So I’m not sure that he ever knew. When I’d see him slip away further from me I was sick to my stomach but I had to keep smiling and tell him that everything was okay.”

Boyer and Wilder met on the set of See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) soon after his third wife, actress Gilda Radner, passed away due to ovarian cancer.

At the time, Boyer was working as a speech therapist but did not agree to date Wilder until well after their first meeting.

After marrying in 1991, the couple enjoyed a happy and fulfilling marriage.

“Gene was wonderful; he was the best husband I think anybody could ask for,” Boyer says.

“To love and be loved is the best gift anybody could ask for, and we had that.”




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