When he was diagnosed, he didn"t decide to give his estate to a child, "a very honest loving child," who he could tell all his most precious candy-making secrets. His estate didn"t have Oompa Loompas like Willy Wonka, and he didn"t inherit a castle located in Transylvania from his great-grandfather, like Victor Frankenstein, either.
We want to believe something magical happened to Wilder"s estate after he died, but at least his estate doesn"t seem to have had a similarly disastrous fate as most estates in Hollywood.
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What Was Wilder"s Estate Worth When He Died
Wilder had an extremely successful career in showbiz. After taking many stage roles in the "60s, he was approached by Mel Brooks to star in his film The Producers. He earned his first Oscar nomination and a $10,000 paycheck (a lot back then).
Next came Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in 1971 and three years later, Young Frankenstein, which he wrote with Brooks, and Blazing Saddles. He also had a successful partnership with comedian Richard Pryor. They co-starred in four films, Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Another You.
Related: Here"s The One Condition Gene Wilder Had For Playing Willy Wonka
Wilder"s last feature film came in 1991, but he still appeared in TV movies and series. Meanwhile, he turned to writing. He co-wrote the book Gilda"s Disease, which talked about his experience taking care of his wife, SNL cast member, Gilda Radner, who died of cancer in 1989. He also penned a memoir called Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art in 2005, and novels My French Whore, The Woman Who Wouldn"t, and Something to Remember You By: A Perilous Romance.
Wilder was worth $20 million at the time of his death, even though he retired from acting in 2003. When his family announced he"d passed away due to complications from Alzheimer"s disease, many people feared whether the icon"s will was legitimate. But thankfully, there were no reports of his family having feuds about his estate. So it seems as if Wilder set in place a great plan for when he was gone, even as he battled Alzheimer"s for three years before his death.
Wilder never had any children, but his nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, became the family spokesperson. He released a statement following Wilder"s death explaining that Wilder wanted to keep his three-year Alzheimer"s battle a secret for fans of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
Related: This Willy Wonka Actor Was Allergic To Chocolate
"The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn"t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him "there"s Willy Wonka," would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion," the statement read. "He simply couldn"t bear the idea of one less smile in the world." Wilder died listening to "Over the Rainbow" by Ella Fitzgerald.
What Happened To His Estate?
Wilder didn"t have any children, but he was survived by his wife Karen Webb, whom he married in 1991. Wilder did have an adopted daughter Katherine, the daughter of his second wife, Mary Joan Schutz, but they"d severed ties with each other. There were rumors that Katherine came to claim some inheritance since she was still his adoptive daughter, but those rumors are unconfirmed.
It was thought that she"d come forward maybe because she thought Wilder"s will wasn"t legit due to his condition. Luckily, Wilder"s will was solid. According to his wife, the icon never even forgot her during his illness, something she was very thankful for.
Related: Fans Are Already Rejecting Timothée Chalamet As Willy Wonka
Besides the $20 million, Wilder had his Stamford, Connecticut property worth $1 million. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Wilder bought a home in Bel Air, Los Angeles, in 2007 for $2.75 million. In 2013, he sold it to Elon Musk for $6.75 million. Last year, however, Musk announced he was selling all of his homes and physical assets, including Wilder"s home. But he wanted to sell it to someone who"d agree not to change the property because he wanted to preserve Wilder"s "magic charm."
In the end, Musk sold it to Wilder"s nephew, "who grew up in the house. I sold it for below market on condition that it pertains its character."
"I think it"s cool that he"s going to live in the house. I love Gene Wilder," Musk said. Variety reported that the billionaire allegedly even helped Wilder"s nephew and his wife Elizabeth Hunter pay for the $7 million family home.
"It has all these funny nooks and crannies and cute cupboards," Musk told Vogue in 2015. "It also feels quite like a little schoolhouse on the prairie — except in Bel-Air on a golf course."
We don"t really know much else about what happened to Wilder"s estate after he died, but if his wife took such great care of her husband during the end of his life, we can safely bet that she"s taking care of his legacy just as well. Does that make her better than Charlie Bucket?
Next: Whatever Happened To The Kid Who Played Charlie In "Willy Wonka"?
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