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Gene Wilder Papers

Identifier: MsC0526

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Scope and Contents

Following donor notes, the collection has been organized in six series. The first five (Boxes 1-7) were the gift of Mr. Wilder and his brother-in-law Gil Pearlman:

I. Scripts - produced (written or co-written by and strarring Gene Wilder).

II. Scripts - produced (starring, but not written by, Gene Wilder)

III. Scripts -- unproduced (written or co-written by Gene Wilder)

IV. Correspondence and Documents

V. Photographs and Clipped Images of Gene Wilder

The sixth series (Box 8) consists of publicity and fan club materials gathered and given to the collection by Ms. Sharon R. Fox of Chicago. Folders within each box are numbered.


  • Creation: 1961-2000
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1970-1979


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 11, 1933, Gene Wilder is the son of William J. and Jeanne (Baer) Silberman. He adopted "Gene Wilder" for his professional name at the age of 26, because, "I had always liked Gene because of Thomas Wolfe's character Eugene Gant in Look Homeward, Angel, and Of Time and the River. And I was always a great admirer of Thornton Wilder." He briefly attended the Black-Foxe Military Institute in Los Angeles, then completed high school in Milwaukee in 1951. A student of acting from the age of twelve, he attended the University of Iowa, took part in student dramatic productions, played in summer stock during vacations, and obtained his B.A. degree in 1955, then enrolled in the Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, England, where he studied judo, fencing, gymnastics, and voice.

Wilder's 1961 off-Broadway New York debut was in Arnold Wesker's Roots. In his first Broadway appearance, November 1961, he played in Graham Greene's comedy The Complaisant Lover, winning the Clarence Derwent Award.

Wilder went to Hollywood in the late 1960's to perform first in Bonnie and Clyde, then in The Producers, and later in Young Frankenstein (1974), which he co-wrote, and in The World's Greatest Lover (1975), of which he was star, writer, director, and producer. Other films included Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Paramount, 1971), Stanley Donen's The Little Prince (Paramount, 1974), Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask (United Artists, 1972), and Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles (Warner Brothers, 1974). He directed his own script, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1975) and played the lead in Silver Streak (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1976). More recent films include The Frisco Kid (1979) , Stir Crazy (1980), The Woman in Red (1984), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989), and Another You (1991).

Wilder has also taken on numerous television roles including three NBC's Dupont Show of the Week presentations during 1962. He appeared as the Head Waiter in "Reunion with Death" on The Defenders (CBS, 1962), Yonkel in "Home for Passover" on Eternal Light (NBC, 1966), and Bernard in Death of a Salesman (CBS, 1966). Recent appearances have included a series "Something Wilder" (1994), Murder in a Small Town (1999), Alice in Wonderland (1999), and The Lady in Question (1999).


3.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Actor, film star, writer, director and producer, University of Iowa alumnus (1955). The Wilder papers include scripts and drafts of scripts, contracts and related papers, and a group of photographs.

Method of Acquisition

The present collection is the joint gift of Mr. Wilder and his brother-in-law, Gilbert Pearlman, and was accessioned in 2001. Additional material was contributed by Sharon R. Fox in July and December 2001 and March 2003.

Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)