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The Death of a Rather Brilliant Surgeon

Young Frankenstein scene, with Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle

From that fateful day when stinking bits of slime first crawled from the sea and shouted to the cold stars, “I am man,” our greatest dread has always been the knowledge of our mortality. But tonight, we shall hurl the gauntlet of science into the frightful face of death itself. Tonight, we shall ascend into the heavens. We shall mock the earthquake. We shall command the thunders, and penetrate into the very womb of impervious nature herself.” – , Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein

As all should know, Young Frankenstein is one of the funniest early sci-fi comedies, boasting the legendary Gene Wilder as one of its writers, and its star. Already known to be witty and side-splittingly hilarious from his performance in Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein was an instant success. This truly one of a kind actor made his final bow on August 29, 2016 in his home in Connecticut from complications with severe Alzheimer’s. Only life can be so darkly ironic as to kill a brilliant actor with a disease that destroys the mind.

Wilder, born Jerome Silberman, was known to stay positive even in the worst of times. When his wife Gilda Radner died from ovarian cancer, Wilder dedicated his time and money to cancer research, eventually co-founding the Cancer Support Community, originally known as Gilda’s Club.

Gene Wilder in 1970

Gene Wilder in 1970

Eleven years ago, in an interview with The Telegraph, Wilder said, “I’ve become pretty philosophical about a lot of things, including death. It doesn’t get to me. I’m married to the woman I love, and I’ve done a lot of the things I wanted to do. At this point, the way I feel, if it’s over, it’s over.” I believe Wilder would choose to be remembered by his happiest, and most hysterical times, and by the film he said was his favorite (of all 37 he acted in), Young Frankenstein.

Young Frankenstein

Young Frankenstein, apart from being a work of comedic genius, one of the best continuations of Mary Shelley’s original story that I’ve seen. It depicts a “rather brilliant surgeon” trying to escape his past, and the heartwarming story of his coming-to-madness and realization of his true nature, resulting in the epiphanic “My name is Frankenstein!” The film, one of the handful to be shot in black and white in the 1970’s, worked tirelessly to replicate the feel of the original Frankenstein films, even going as far to use the same props. But with Mel Brooks directing, Brooks and Wilder writing, and Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman as co-stars, how could it not have you dying with laughter? Without further ado, the most hilarious scenes from Young Frankenstein:

**Spoilers!** … I guess. If you’ve been living under a rock. Or have no taste in comedy.

I hope these clips put tears in your eyes and, uh, splits in your sides? Whatever they do, I hope they help you to remember Wilders’ legendary comedic genius with a smile on your face.

Featured Image: 20th Century Fox

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