Gene Wilder dies: praise swells on social media for ‘giant of comedy’

gene wilder condescending wonka meme

Gene Wilder, perhaps most famous to Millennials as the face of the Condescending Wonka meme, has died age 83.

Wilder, who succumbed to complications surrounding his struggle with Alzheimer’s, starred in a slew of movies from 1967 through to 1991, which his most famous roles include Frankenstein in the 70s, and Willy Wonka in 1971’s Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

His most recent appearance on screen was in season five of Will & Grace back in 2002.

‘The suspense is terrible… I hope it’ll last’ – Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

Soon after news of Gene Wilder’s passing broke last night South African time, tributes flooded in from celebrities and fans on Twitter and beyond.

Imgur, Twitter pay their respects to Wilder

Users on Imgur posted tributes in the form of memes, short biographies and image rolls of Wilder’s works.


“I like show, but I don’t like the business.” – Gene Wilder

Let’s honor the late Gene Wilder by watching some of his best works.

Beyond the image boards, Twitter also lit up with messages of thanks and appreciation for Wilder’s comedic talents from other comedic stars in Hollywood.

Wilder’s online legacy

But while Wilder will be remembered professionally for his contribution to film and comedy, he can also attest to owning his very own meme.

According to KnowYourMeme, Condescending Wonka became popular on internet image boards in 2011, where it was first used on Quickmeme to throw shade on a fresh graduate. It has since become one of the internet’s most commonly used memes, and is often used in image threads to express disdain or sarcasm towards a subject or comment.

According to Google Search Trends, Gene Wilder also enjoyed a healthy global appetite in terms of search queries, with Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory proving 0ddly popular in Russia.

Wilder is survived by his only daughter, Katharine Wilder.

Feature image: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)

Andy Walker, former editor


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