When perusing today’s celebrity birthdays, one name jumped out at us: the great Gene Wilder, who turns 79 years old today. Happy birthday, Gene Wilder, if you have a Google alert for your own name! A quick peek at his bio, however, made us realize that although his face seems to appear every day in our Facebook feed, he’s actually quite out of the public eye — he hasn’t made a theatrical film in over two decades. He may not be the spring chicken of Young Frankenstein (that’s Fronk-un-STEEN) anymore, but there’s still plenty of good years left in Mr. Wilder; after the jump, we plead with him and nine other beloved film stars to come out of their self-imposed exiles.
LAST SEEN IN: Another You, 1991
Wilder starred in several of our favorite films of the 1970s and 1980s: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Stir Crazy, and Hanky Panky, on which he met wife Gilda Radner. Her death in 1989 marked the beginning of the end for the actor; he only made two more films, 1990’s Funny About Love and 1991’s Another You (which was also Richard Pryor’s last major role). Though he’s done a few TV movies and guest appearances, including an Emmy-winning role on Will & Grace, he told Alec Baldwin in a 2008 TCM interview that he had retired from acting: “I don’t like show business, I realized. I like show, but I don’t like the business.” We certainly understand that point of view, but we can’t help but think that there’s a great role just waiting for Mr. Wilder in a Wes Anderson or Judd Apatow movie.