Wilder was someone I looked up to not only as an artist (actor and writer), but as a person. I only knew how he was perceived in public--not personally--but that image he portrayed in public was a man to aspire to (behind only my father, grandfather, and a few others in my life).
The effects of Alzheimer's had Wilder leading a largely private life for the last fifteen years or so, but he was always spoken and thought of with fond esteem.
Some of the earliest movies I remember watching have Wilder in them. Movies that I have enjoyed multiple of viewings over the years: Stir Crazy, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles and, of course, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the movie with perhaps the greatest entrance of all time.
These movies have always had a special place in my heart and they always will. It was only in the last ten years, though, that I've come to appreciate Wilder's performances for what they truly were. And it is without fail that I also refer to his book Kiss Me Like a Stranger on a yearly basis.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Wilder. You will be missed, but hardly forgotten.