Tearful Wilder reunion on Bermuda flight
They first met when she played the stunning object of his affection in the box office sensation Woman In Red — and the late Gene Wilder enjoyed a tender final reunion with Kelly Le Brock while en route to Bermuda in 2012.
Former actress, international model and 1980s It Girl, Ms Le Brock has recalled reconnecting with two-time Oscar nominee Wilder while travelling to Bermuda in interviews following her co-star’s death from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Mr Wilder, who appeared in such classic movies as The Producers, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and Blazing Saddles, died on August 29 at his Connecticut home. He was 83.
His death sparked a worldwide outpouring of grief tempered by love and admiration.
Occasional Bermuda visitor Ms Le Brock, who lives happily out of the public eye now in California and rarely gives interviews, added her voice to the tributes being paid to Wilder this week.
Wilder and Ms Le Brock appeared together in the hit 1984 romantic comedy Woman In Red, a movie which propelled the then unknown actress to worldwide celebrity.
Aside from co-starring in the film, Wilder also wrote and directed the American adaptation of a popular 1976 French comedy.
“Gene Wilder looked upon me at the time like a daughter.” she told a British newspaper of working with him on that film. “All I ever felt from him was pure fatherly love and support.”
Ms Le Brock said it was while boarding a flight to Bermuda four years ago she last ran into Wilder, who was already displaying symptoms of the Alzheimer’s disease which eventually took his life.
“I hadn’t seen Gene in a thousand years,” she said to The Hollywood Reporter entertainment industry trade journal. “But there he was in the last row of first class. He looked so fragile!
“We both started crying. I held his hand and told him how much I loved him. It was just so special to see him again.
“He meant so, so much to me. It was just because he was so old and fragile that got me going. There was a just a deep love between us.”
American-born, British-raised Ms Le Brock said she last spoke to Mr Wilder on the phone about a year ago — “and we would e-mail, as well”.
But it was on that flight to Bermuda that she last saw her friend, who she remembered as “very quiet and kind of shy”.
“The Gene that I knew and that I loved was quiet. He loved his meals and his wine. He loved Europe. He loved writing.”
Reflecting on the star’s final years Ms Le Brock said: “My biggest regret is not spending more time with him while he was here. I feel very honoured to have known him and even been in the same room as him. I share everyone’s pain and tears. I love Gene.”
Ms Le Brock famously set the pulses of both the Wilder character and global movie audiences racing as the title character in Woman In Red.
So she said there was a certain symmetry at play when she last encountered him on that airline flight: “Ironically, I hadn’t worn red in a thousand years and there I was head-to-toe in it when I got on that flight to Bermuda.
“I was wearing red thigh high suede boots, red trousers, red sweater, red bag.”
She joked: “It was such an early flight I was probably red-eyed too.”