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Show goes on: Phoenix-area theater expands Gene Wilder tribute screenings

Gene Wilder (Facebook Photo)

PHOENIX — A Phoenix-area theater chain is expanding its on-screen tribute to the late Gene Wilder, it was announced Friday.

Harkins Theatres said in a Facebook post that it would continue to screen both “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” and “Blazing Saddles” until Sept. 15 because the movies have been so popular with fans.

The tribute began last week, days after Wilder died at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. The frizzy-haired actor was 83.

“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.”

The event was originally held only at the Harkins Valley Art in downtown Tempe, but the chain has decided to add more venues.

Tickets for the screenings are $5. Locations, showtimes and tickets are available online.

All proceeds from last week will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association’s Desert Southwest Chapter. Wilder suffered from Alzheimer’s.

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.

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

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