Gene Wilder’s final words revealed by his widow

As they lay in bed together listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ in bed, Gene Wilder uttered his last words to his wife: “I love you.”



Gene Wilder’s last words were: ‘I love you’
Gene Wilder’s last words were: ‘I love you’

Gene Wilder’s last words were: “I love you.”

The ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ actor, who died from Alzheimer’s disease aged 83 in 2016, made the statement to his wife Karen Boyer while they listened to Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ in bed.

Karen, 81, who was married to Gene from 1991, says in the new documentary ‘Remembering Gene Wilder’: “The music was playing in the background – Ella Fitzgerald was singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, and I was lying next to him and he sat up in bed and he said, ‘I trust you.’

“And then he said, ‘I love you.’ That’s the last thing he said.”

Karen added about how Gene amazed her by taking a swim in the days leading up to his death: “He hadn’t walked alone (in a long time) and it was just a few days before he died, and I looked up and he was walking across the kitchen and then he said, ‘I want to go swimming.’

“He dove into the pool liked he used to – I saw his little tush in the air – and I was awestruck.

“And he took two strokes, he stood up, shook his head the way he always did to get the water out of his ear and said, ‘That's good.’

“Went back to bed, and I think he just wanted to get in the pool one more time.”

Gene – also famed for his roles in ‘The Producers’, ‘Blazing Saddles’ and ‘Young Frankenstein’ – first met speech consultant Karen while he was researching his 1989 movie ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil’.

The pair did not go on a first date for more than a year after their original meeting, but their relationship started after Gene’s third wife – comedian and actress Gilda Radner – died aged 42 in 1989 of ovarian cancer.

Karen adds in the new film about the late comedian: “Gene was wonderful – he was the best husband I think anybody could ask for.

“To love and be loved is the best gift anybody could ask for, and we had that.”

Karen also says in the documentary, out in cinemas now in New York, she first noticed Gene was having memory troubles when he struggled to remember the title of ‘Young Frankenstein’, which she says was his favourite film.

She said: “He never really accepted that he had Alzheimer’s, and maybe by the time we found out that’s what it was – his hippocampus didn’t let him remember.

“So I’m not sure that he ever knew. When I’d see him slip away further from me I was sick to my stomach but I had to keep smiling and tell him that everything was okay.”