Gene Wilder’s Favorite Books

Gene Wilder, the great comedian and actor, passed away this week at the age of 83. Gene Wilder is best known for his work in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and See No Evil Hear No Evil. He is one of the great icons of a past generation and his work is sure to be immortalized in the history of American film. Outside of his presence in Hollywood, Wilder was a reader. In an interview he did with The Week magazine, he listed some of his all-time favorite books. Take a look:

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway


Wilder was impressed with Hemingway’s ability to portray “grace under pressure.” The book focuses on a love story during the Spanish Civil War. The two lovers are constantly conflicted because of the war, forcing them to act bravely, or to not act at all.

Timebends by Arthur Miller


The late, great playwright Arthur Miller was an inspiration for Gene Wilder. Wilder wrote that Miller’s autobiography, “answered so many questions I wanted to know.” It tops Wilder’s list of favorite books because of the in-depth look at Miller’s trials, tests, and testimonies.

Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh edited by Irving Stone


The second autobiography on the list comes from Van Gogh himself. As a fellow creative, Gene Wilder found insight from this book on many occasions. He even said that the book, “always gave me courage when I was depressed.”

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald



This psychological thriller caught Wilder’s eye because of its unique romantic twist. The story is about a doctor and a patient who’s roles reverse as their relationship develops. Wilder had a soft spot for romance in conflict, as we can see in his reasoning for choosing this book: “He ends up a wreck and she ends up quite sane and normal. It’s very moving.”

 Featured image courtesy of