Monday, November 21, 2011
As soon as I started listening to the book, which is read by Wilder in a gentle, warm tone, I quickly remembered just how much I loved him as a comic actor growing up. Like many people, I got my first taste of Wilder in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory . I am pretty sure I saw it before I turned ten and promptly went out and got the book. In my teens I discovered other classics starring Wilder in the 1970s. He had an amazing stretch in the 1970s: Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex * but Were Afraid to Ask , Blazing Saddles , Young Frankenstein , Silver Streak , The Frisco Kid  and Stir Crazy . Let's not forget Bonnie and Clyde in 1967 and The Producers in 1968 either. Not too shabby, huh?
I consider myself a Wilder fan, but I knew very little about his upbringing or life. The most public element that I was aware of was his marriage to Gilda Radner when she died of cancer in 1989. I didn't know his original name was Jerome Silberman or that he was raised in Milwaukee. I had no clue that his early years as an actor he was dedicated to a more serious vein of theatre acting that involved membership into the Actor's Studio [when it was much, much more than a crappy TV interview show] and studying under Lee Strasberg. I had no clue how he met Mel Brooks and was cast in his big break in The Producers or that he wrote Young Frankenstein. I wish Wilder would have included even more movie stories from the production or from the set. It has stories, just not enough of them. Kiss Me Like a Stranger goes into the things I didn't know while also delving into his romantic life with a surprising level of intimacy and really gave me insight into the Wilder I knew and the Wilder I didn't know.
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Posted by Joshua Blevins Peck at 7:39 AM