Count me among the millions of fans who got their primary sense of humor formed by films that were a collaboration between Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder: The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. I can never decide which of the latter two is my favorite comedy of all time; I quote at least one of them almost daily. That (along with his Willy Wonka role) explains why Gene Wilder’s death hits so hard, and why there’s no one better than Brooks to help us celebrate his legacy.
While visiting Jimmy Fallon last night, Brooks told the stories of his old friend, lamenting that he could no longer pick up the phone and call Gene. The always gracious and menschy Brooks offered many stories of their collaboration, including the moment he told Wilder he’d finally found funding for The Producers and the day Wilder gave him the idea of a descendant of Victor Frankenstein struggling with his family’s dark legacy. Watch to the end for some delightful tidbits about their process for casting Young Frankenstein and Madeline Kahn ad-libbing on the set.