4 Mental Health Facts You Didn’t Know About Gene Wilder

Published on: 31 Aug 2016
Gene Wilder book signing

We all know Gene Wilder was an amazing actor who played some of the most memorable characters of our lifetime, including Willy Wonka. His passing has galvanized us to reflect on his work and honor his life. It’s also an opportunity to learn lesser-known facts about a legend.

Wilder was also a mental health advocate. Through his work and charity, he left behind mental health references we can now highlight and appreciate in a new light.

Mental Illnesses Inspired His Roles and Writing

Wilder’s characters often embodied mental health problems, according to The New York Times. This allowed Wilder to bring awareness and levity to issues of mental health and illness.

His Interest in Psychotherapy Inspired a Famous Character

In “Young Frankenstein,” there is a character named Frau Blücher. Wilder named her after reading letters to Sigmund Freud, one of which was from a person named Blücher.

His Memoir Features Therapy

Wilder’s memoir, “Kiss Me Like a Stranger,” begins with him describing his visit to a psychotherapist. After breaking the tension with some jokes, he discusses serious issues such as sexual repression, guilt and odd compulsions.

He Worked in a Psychiatric Hospital

Before making it big as an actor, Wilder worked as an aide in the psychiatric unit of the Valley Forge Army Hospital in Pennsylvania. The experience influenced his acting and inspired his writing.

Wilder’s life shows us art is a wonderful place to highlight issues of mental health and illness. He may have passed away, but his work and wisdom will live forever.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

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