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Publisher's Summary

Told in his own words, a very personal story from the star of many beloved and classic comedies, including Young Frankenstein, The Producers, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Gene Wilder is one of the great comic actors who defined the 1970s and 1980s in movies. From his work with Woody Allen, to the rich group of movies he made with Mel Brooks, to his partnership on screen with Richard Pryor, Wilder's performances are still discussed and celebrated today. Kiss Me Like a Stranger is an intimate glimpse of the man behind the image on the screen. 

In this book, Wilder talks about everything from his experiences in psychoanalysis to why he got into comedy - his first goal was to be a Shakespearean actor - to how a midwestern childhood with a sick mother changed him. He writes about the creative process on stage and on screen, and divulges moments from life on the sets of some of the most iconic movies of our time. 

He also opens up about his search for love and his marriages, including his marriage to comedienne Gilda Radner. But the core of Kiss Me Like a Stranger is an actor's search for truth and a thoughtful analysis of why the choices he made - some of them so serendipitous they were practically accidental - changed the course of his life. 

Listen to a Fresh Air interview with Gene Wilder.

And don't miss Gene Wilder in Conversation with Wendy Wasserstein at the 92nd Street Y.

©2005 Gene Wilder (P)2005 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC

Critic Reviews

 

  • Alex Award Winner, 2000

"A gracious, endearing book....[Wilder] writes with striking candor." (The New York Times)

"Pure Gene Wilder! Uproarishly funny and at times very moving. It made me want to go out and see every Gene Wilder movie again." (Mel Brooks) 

What listeners say about Kiss Me Like a Stranger

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting for a number of factors.

Gene Wilder, in telling about his career, leaves enough hints for the aspiring actor, director and producer to better themselves. There are joyous moments and there are sad moments. But there isn't a moment where you'll lose interest.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

funny, moving, poignant

I don't know why but I am always surprised to find that even the rich and famous are plagued by the same problems and insecurities everyone else has. Yes, certain parts of the book are painful to read but who's life story is without pain? I was very touched and found it moving. And yes, it did bring to mind the many funny movies Gene Wilder has been in and I hope they have made it to dvd because I wouldn't mind seeing them all over again.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

an intimate portrait

It becomes clear that the early segment of Wilder's narrative parallels years of sessions with his therapist--touching and painful and ultimately leading to growth as an artist and as a man, flawed but fascinating. I can't imagine this book read by anyone but the author, especially given that his credo as an actor is to make it real. It definitely makes one want to go back to a number of his movies, especially some of the lesser-known ones.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Brutally honest and charming

Gene Wilder discusses his childhood; his parents, his marriages; with brutal honesty and charm. Truly an unexpected glimpse into a great mind; more than I expected in some areas, less than I wanted in others; Bravo Mr. Wilder-- would like to read more of your writings!

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Honest Story By An Honest Man

Must admit that I was a little bit disappointed as I was hoping that it would be funnier. However I should have known as most comedy comes from deep pain. I had a mutual friend of GW's who passed away last year. He had told me about the quick wit and how hilarious he was but there again they were Hollywood people who live lives that have different facets to those of us 'regular folk'.

GW certainly lays his life bare. I was quite surprised about his relationship with the late Gilda Radnor. I am not going to spoil it for anyone...listen to the book! His youth sounded 'challenging'. How a young boy like that could grow up and become so successful is quite astounding. How lovely it was that he found Mel Brooks. Sounds as if they were 'birds of a feather'.

GW gives us a poignant performance. There are parts where he becomes so emotional that his voice breaks and you can hear the tears come.

He has gone but he has left us with a tremendous body of work together with this book of inner thoughts. I found them sad and I preferred MY Gene Wider up on that screen 'Putting on The Ritz" with Peter Boyle in Young Frankenstein or hanging upside down in a prison cell with Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles.

Rest In Peace Mr. Wilder and thank you.

10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gene has a rare gift for story telling

I've admired Gene for so long , I hate running but listening to him tell his story made me anxious to get outside and run just to listen to him speak . Wonderful book and wonderful to hear him read it .

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

I grew up watching Gene Wilder on the big screen. I thought I knew about him pretty well, but there is still plenty here to absorb about his life. There's some good advice too. RIP Gene Wilder and Harambe.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

My love for Gene...

I really enjoyed learning more about one of my favorite actors. Such a sensitive gentle soul and a fabulous actor.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • kt
  • 05-20-16

what a lovely book

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and Gene Wilder's narration. He speaks with a gentle kindness and you can feel the emotion. Definitely recommend!

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not so great. Very unemotional telling.

This was not what I expected. This was a rather unemotional and somewhat haphazard telling of his life peppered with quite a bit about sex here and there. Was anyone clamoring for Gene to talk about his sex life? Not me. Some really strange childhood trauma pops up too - also sex related. I came away feeling that Gene was a really weird dude: always extremely calm in speech and actions but most likely boiling inside with rage and confusion. I like him less now than I did before when I knew nothing about him.

4 people found this helpful