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Phoenix-area theater to host on-screen tribute to Gene Wilder

FILE - In this April 9, 2008 file photo, actor Gene Wilder listens as he is introduced to receive the Governor's Awards for Excellence in Culture and Tourism at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn. Wilder, who starred in such film classics as "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and "Young Frankenstein" has died. He was 83. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

PHOENIX — A Phoenix-area theater will host an on-screen tribute to the late Gene Wilder in the coming week, it was announced Wednesday.

Harkins Theatres said its Valley Art location near Fifth Street and Mill Avenue will screen several films from Wilder’s career.

“Gene Wilder spent his life making people smile and laugh, his zest for life came across in every role he played,” Dan Harkins, owner of Harkins Theatres, said in a press release.

“What he accomplished on screen was absolutely incredible. His comedic talent brought joy to millions over his long career, and he will be extremely missed.”

Wilder died on Monday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. The frizzy-haired actor was 83.

The theater will show “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” “Blazing Saddles,” “The Producers” and “Stir Crazy” during the tribute that runs Sept. 2 to Sept. 8. Showtimes and tickets are available online.

Tickets for the screenings are $5. All proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association’s Desert Southwest Chapter. Wilder suffered from Alzheimer’s.

“Every penny that we make from playing his movies will be going to the Alzheimer’s Association to help find a cure for the disease that killed Gene Wilder,” Harkins said.

Jordan Walker-Pearlman, Wilder’s nephew, said in a statement that Wilder was diagnosed with the disease three years ago, but kept the condition private so as not to disappoint fans.

“He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world,” Walker-Pearlman said.

Another chain, AMC, will offer screenings of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” and “Blazing Saddles” on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets and showtimes are available online.

KTAR’s Bob McClay and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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