We Are The Music Makers, and We Are The Dreamers of Dreams

You’ve likely heard by now that Gene Wilder has passed away. He was 83.  As has become tradition here on the blog, we like to look back at those icons of stage and screen who made life better with the help of Shakespeare.

Mr. Wilder’s most famous role must surely be that of the original, the one and only Willy Wonka.  Here’s our good friend @Bardfilm’s video take on all the Shakespeare references in this masterpiece from our childhood:

Did you know that Wilder’s first performance in front of a paying audience was in a production of Romeo and Juliet when he was 15?  He played Balthasar.  (That’s ok, I didn’t know that either until I read his wikipedia page :))

But wait! There’s more.  Gene Wilder was actually born Jerome Silberman. Where and why did he get Gene Wilder?  “Jerry Silberman as Macbeth didn’t have the right ring to it,” he thought when he joined the Actor’s Studio, choosing Wilder from Thornton Wilder and Gene from Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel. He later said that he couldn’t imagine Gene Wilder playing Macbeth either :).  Our loss – I can’t find any record of him ever trying.

Though it has nothing to do with Shakespeare, I love the trivia that Gene Wilder basically rewrote the part that made him famous, Willy Wonka, including such specifics as the entrance where his cane sticks in the cobblestones and he does his little somersault entrance. He also entirely redesigned the costume.  So shines a good deed in a weary world…

Those who know a little more about Wilder’s personal story know that he never fully got over the death of his wife Gilda Radner from ovarian cancer.  At last they’re reunited.

Good night, sweet prince. Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

One thought on “We Are The Music Makers, and We Are The Dreamers of Dreams

  1. From: _Music and Moonlight_ (1874)
    By Arthur O'Shaughnessy. 1844–1881

    WE are the music-makers,
    And we are the dreamers of dreams,
    Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
    And sitting by desolate streams;
    World-losers and world-forsakers,
    On whom the pale moon gleams:
    Yet we are the movers and shakers
    Of the world for ever, it seems.

    With wonderful deathless ditties
    We build up the world's great cities,
    And out of a fabulous story
    We fashion an empire's glory:
    One man with a dream, at pleasure,
    Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
    And three with a new song's measure
    Can trample an empire down.

    We, in the ages lying
    In the buried past of the earth,
    Built Nineveh with our sighing,
    And Babel itself with our mirth;
    And o'erthrew them with prophesying
    To the old of the new world's worth;
    For each age is a dream that is dying,
    Or one that is coming to birth.

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