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Jerome Silberman was born on June 11, 1933 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to William J. Silberman (born in Russia circa 1901) and Jeanne Baer (born in Illinois circa 1908). He had at least one older sister, Corinne (born in Wisconsin circa 1930) who was enrolled in acting classes, who initially gained his interest in pursuing a career in acting while he watched her take lessons.
He changed his professional name to Gene Wilder as he liked the character Eugene Grant by author Thomas Wolfe and also liked Thornton Wilder, so he combined them together. In his career he was nominated several times for Academy Awards and Golden Globes, but finally won a primetime Emmy Award for a guest appearance on the television show Will and Grace.
He was married 4 times. First to Mary Mercier (from 1960 to 1965), then to Mary Joan Schutz (from 1967 to 1974), then to Gilda Radner (from 1984 to 1989 - her death), and finally to Karen Boyer (who was Karen Webb at the time) (from 1991 to 2016 - his death). While he and Gilda attempted to have children, he did not have any children of his own with any of his marriages. He did formally adopt his step-daughter Katharine who was Mary Joan's daughter from a previous marriage.
Gene passed away on August 29, 2016 due to complications with Alzheimer's disease.
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