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Often playing opposite enormous performers like Zero Mostel and Richard Pryor, Wilder was a straight man who often wound up in a straightjacket.Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee, Wilder first began performing for his mother, who was badly marred by a heart attack when Wilder was 6, as a way to entertain and cheer her up. He would later be schooled by Lee Strasberg at the Actor's Studio, but that early aura – of laughter with darkness around – never left Wilder. Wilder's bug-eyed knack for neurotic extremes was so winning only because of his underlying tenderness. Fully embodying his characters, Wilder was utterly unpredictable, moment to moment. Wilder was much more than a comic actor.Shying away from interviews, Wilder remained delightfully enigmatic through his many decades in show business.
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