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Remembering Gene Wilder: Let’s not forget about his TV legacy

Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder, legendary actor and star of films like “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Blazing Saddles,” has died due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Wilder was 83.

While his impact on the world of film is simply unforgettable, littered with iconic roles, it’s important to remember Wilder also made quite an impression on the small screen. In fact, his TV career dates back even further than his work in the movies.

Wilder got his start in the 1961 series “Play of the Week” in a production of “The Wingless Victory,” before later appearing in episodes of “Armstrong Circle Theater,” “The DuPont Show of the Week” and “The Defenders” in 1962. He also starred in 7 different TV movies throughout his career.

RELATED: Gene Wilder still doesn’t like Tim Burton’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’

Beyond those roles though, there are four major TV credits that need to be brought up when speaking about Wilder’s TV legacy.

‘The Electric Company’

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Right around the time the world was getting to know him as Willy Wonka, Wilder began appearing on the children’s program “The Electric Company,” voicing the character Letterman in the recurring animated segment “The Adventures of Letterman.” While kids may have found portions of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” scary, there’s no way to do anything but love Letterman when he’d show up to save the day.

‘Something Wilder’

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It was 19944 when Wilder was given his own sitcom, “Something Wilder.” It only lasted one season, but cast Wilder in a new role: a dad. Somehow, the show also managed to land Alice Cooper as a guest star when the rock star moved in next door to Wilder’s character.

‘Will & Grace’

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Wilder only appeared on two episodes of “Will & Grace,” playing Will’s eccentric boss Mr. Stein, but it was enough to make people take notice. In 2003, the actor took home an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor on a Comedy Series for the role, giving him his only major acting awards — despite Academy Award nominations.

‘Yo Gabba Gabba!’

His final TV credit was a return to his “Electric Company” roots, voicing a character on a popular children’s series — this time, “Yo Gabba Gabba!” He played Elmer, an alien who teamed with his friend Buzz to capture the Gabba Land crew and turn them into evil fairies. Never fear though, Gabba Land was restored to normalcy eventually.

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