Gene Wilder's widow recalls actor's sweet final words in new documentary

GOSSIP & RUMORS: Gene Wilder’s widow recalls actor’s sweet final words in new documentary



Karen Boyer, Gene Wilder’s widow, remembered the last words her late husband said before his death in August 2016.

A new “Remembering Gene Wilder” documentary focused on the actor’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease and into his final days.

In the film, Boyer recalled listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s legendary hit, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” with Gene before he spoke for the last time.

“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,’” she said, per People magazine. 

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

Wilder died on August 29, 2016, from complications with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83.

Boyer remembered the first time she became aware Wilder was struggling with his memory when he couldn’t remember the title of “Young Frankenstein,” which she said was “his favorite movie.”

“He never really accepted that he had Alzheimers, and maybe by the time we found out that’s what it was, his hippocampus didn’t let him remember,” she said in the film. 

“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.” 

A new “Remembering Gene Wilder” documentary focused on the actor’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease and into his final days. Courtesy Everett Collection
Wilder died on August 29, 2016, from complications with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83. Courtesy Everett Collection

Boyer added, “Gene was wonderful; he was the best husband I think anybody could ask for. To love and be loved is the best gift anybody could ask for, and we had that.”

Wilder was married four times. His third marriage to fellow comedian Gilda Radner, an original “Saturday Night Live” cast member, lasted from 1984-89, when she died of complications from ovarian cancer.

The former couple met on the set of the Sydney Poitier directed movie “Hanky Panky.”

He married Karen Webb (Boyer) in 1991, a supervisor for the New York League for the Hard of Hearing who had been an expert on his 1989 film, “See No Evil, Hear No Evil.” 

Boyer remembered the first time she became aware Wilder was struggling with his memory when he couldn’t remember the title of “Young Frankenstein,” which she said was “his favorite movie.” Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
He married Karen Webb (Boyer) in 1991, a supervisor for the New York League for the Hard of Hearing who had been an expert on his 1989 film, “See No Evil, Hear No Evil.” Andrew Gombert/EPA/Shutterstock

Brian Scott Mednick, who published a biography about the Hollywood icon titled “Gene Wilder: Funny and Sad,” remembered Wilder being completely enamored with Karen.

“Gene called Karen the great love of his life,” Mednick told Woman’s World in 2018. “It was his fourth marriage and the longest; he died shortly before their 25th wedding anniversary.

Gene admitted he was very unhappy for a long time with Gilda. He didn’t think he’d get married again, and he said he didn’t believe in fate.

“And he nearly cried when telling an interviewer how passionate his love for Karen was. He said he always felt you make your life and then call it fate, but Karen made him believe in fate. Like any marriage, it wasn’t without its problems, but it was a very strong, loving marriage. He just idolized her.”



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