#VeteranOfTheDay Army Veteran Gene Wilder


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Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Gene Wilder.

Gene Wilder was born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 11, 1933. He graduated from Washington High School in Milwaukee in 1951 and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1955. He spent the next year studying theater at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, United Kingdom. He was then drafted into the Army on September 10, 1956.

Gene was assigned to the medical corps and trained at Fort Sam Houston. After training, he was assigned to the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Valley Forge Army Hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a paramedic. During those years he began taking acting classes at Herbert Berghof Studio in New York City. He was honorably discharged in 1958. In 1959, at the age of 26 he adopted the name Gene Wilder as his stage name.

Over the next several decades, Gene directed and stared in films, stage plays, commercials, television shows, wrote screenplays, several novels and a memoir. His film career began with a minor role in the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde. His first major role was in Mel Brooks’ 1968 film, the Producers. However, he is most known for his work in films such as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

At the age of 8, Gene became interested in acting after he discovered he could make his mother, who was struggling with rheumatic heart disease and had recently suffered a heart attack, laugh.

Gene lived in Stamford, Connecticut with his wife until his death on August 28, 2016, at the age of 83, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

We honor his service.


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service..

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to newmedia@va.gov with as much of the information as you can put together with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating for how to create the best submission.

Author

Meagan Heup

Meagan began working for VA in the Office of Public Affairs in 2010. Since then, she has worked as a Public Affairs Specialist in the Office of Media Relations.

Comments

  1. Anne Koskinen    

    RIP Gene. Loved all your work. And THANKS from a fellow veteran.

  2. June Lockard    

    Thank you Meagan for that nice tribute and bio of Gene Wilder… I was not even aware he had been a Veteran!

  3. Mary Eliseo    

    It always a good feeling when you help a fellow veteran.

  4. James Stephens    

    Vantage Point.

    This is my first exposure to Vantage Point and I enjoyed the articles and referral categories. I will share this
    info with the Vets I assist with filing claims.

    Jim Stephens
    MASTER CHIEF(E-9) USN Ret
    Certified Chapter Servicer Officer for Chapter 9 DAV

  5. Richard Hennessey    

    A great article on a Great Veteran of the Day, Gene Wilder, who entertained us all.

  6. Ethelle Lord, DM    

    Now that we have achieved remission in dementia, I can only imagine Gene would have been happy and benefited too from such a remission.

  7. George merritt    

    Thank but you can never give back the year and what thAy have been try and how we or treated like me And my wife who is from trenadad and inmagration had. Treated me like a. Second hand America and 22years in the army. What a shame we have to put up with and she spoke broken English. What wrong with our country. Thank you one more who does not count

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