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01 September 2016

Missing me some truly funny guys

Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle in "Young Frankenstein." (Courtesy: www4.pictures.zimbio.com)

Think about it for a second.

Someone points a finger at you and requests/hopes/demands that you be funny right now.

Not just a little funny, but world-class funny.

Gene Wilder, who we lost in the past few days, and Peter Boyle, gone 10 years in December, were two of the funniest humans of their generation.  If you think that's easy, try it.

Go ahead, be world-class hilarious right now!  Come on, we're waiting.

I only realized that Jerome Silberman, better known as Gene Wilder, played a hostage in Bonnie and Clyde (1967) when I saw the blood-laced yarn based on the famous bank-robbing duo years later.

Wilder broke out in films the next year opposite another legendary comedian, Zero Mostel in Mel Brooks' The Producers.  It was a coming out party for Brooks and Wilder; a directorial debut for Brooks, a career-launching performance for Wilder and the beginning of a cinematic collaboration that doubled me over with laughter as the shaky gunslinger in the outrageous Western comedy Blazing Saddles and as Dr. Frankenstein, the grandson of the body-snatching scientist in Young Frankenstein.  Both in 1974.

Many of us remember Boyle best as the eternally lovable grouch Frank Barone on the TV sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond from 1996 to 2005.  In 1999, Boyle had a heart attack on the Everybody Loves Raymond set, according to published reports.  He recovered, then returned to the show.

Wilder and Boyle, and for that matter Brooks, were never better when they conjured up a perfect storm of raucous hilarity in Young Frankenstein, which just happens to be my favorite comedy of all time.

Here's how I'll remember two comic geniuses named Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle.

Hit it, boys!


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