'Willy Wonka' Star Gene Wilder's Widow Karen Boyer Unveils the Actor's Emotional Last Words

Karen Boyer and Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder, known for memorable performances in classic films like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and more, died of complications from Alzheimer's disease in 2016 at 83. But his widow, Karen Boyer, is now remembering his final days, including his last words to her.

Boyer opened up about her time with her husband in a new documentary about the actor called Remembering Gene Wilder, recounting a key memory shortly before his death as they listened to Ella Fitzgerald's recording of "Over the Rainbow," originally sung by Judy Garland for The Wizard of Oz.

"The music was playing in the background...and I was lying next to him," she recalled. "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."

Wilder was diagnosed with Alzheimer's three years before his passing, as his nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, revealed in the statement announcing his death. The actor kept the disease secret from the public so as not to disappoint fans, with Walker-Pearlman saying, "He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world."

Boyer echoed these sentiments as she described her husband in the new film dedicated to his life and career: "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."

The couple first met in the 1980s as Wilder researched for his film See No Evil, Hear No Evil. At the time, they were reportedly just acquaintances, as the actor was married to his third wife, Gilda Radner, with whom he tied the knot in 1984.

Before Radner, Wilder was also married to Mary Mercier for five years in the 1960s, followed by Mary Joan Schutz from 1967 to 1974. Sometime after Radner passed away in 1989 from ovarian cancer, Boyer and Wilder reconnected. They married in 1991 and remained together until his death, with Boyer serving as the actor's caregiver throughout his Alzheimer's disease.

Next: We Ranked the 100 Best Movies of All Time