Katharine Wilder is the only child of the late American multi-talent Gene Wilder, who became famous for his iconic portrayal of “Willy Wonka” from the children’s film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Gene adopted Katherine after marrying Katherine’s biological mother in 1967.
However, when the marriage broke up in 1974, Katharine became estranged from her father. Her belief that Wilder was having an extramarital affair contributed to the alienation, and this led to her breaking all ties with her father. The relationship between father and daughter continued until his death in 2016.
Katharine Wilder’s Biography
Katharine Wilder is the daughter of Gene Wilder’s second wife from a previous marriage. Gene Wilder adopted her when he married her biological mother Mary Joan Schutz. It’s believed Wilder married Katherine’s mother so he could adopt her. Katharine was Gene Wilder’s only child, though he was married four times.
Katharine broke off all contact with her father at the age of 23 when he divorced Katharine’s mother after several years of marriage. The divorce, which devastated Katharine, followed Gene Wilder’s alleged extramarital affair with his co-actress from the movie Young Frankenstein, Madeline Khan.
At the publication of his book Kiss me like a stranger, Wilder spoke freely about his estranged daughter. He said that as someone who loved to be the center of attention at all times, he could not even share this space with his own daughter. It felt “too cramped” for him, and he was unable to provide emotional support even for an adult child.
Katharine probably never forgave her father. Gene Wilder had admitted that he had written the book Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art for his daughter. But he was not sure if Katharine would ever read it. Nevertheless, Wilder remained hopeful that Katharine would read the book and that it would help to improve things between the two of them.
Catherine’s father, Gene Wilder, was an iconic comedy actor who starred in classics such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and The Producers. Apart from being a brilliant comedian, Gene Wilder was also a director, screenwriter, writer, singer, songwriter, and producer. You could call him a man of many talents!
He died in 2016 at the age of 83 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. The actor had kept his illness secret in order not to spoil the beloved comedy character “Willy Wonka” for children who loved the movie world. He couldn’t bear to have one less smile in the world because of his illness. He was indeed committed to his art.
Her mother Mary Joan Schutz was a friend of Gene Wilder’s sister Corinne. She had Katharine from a previous marriage before she met Wilder. But Katharine began calling Wilder “Dad” while he was with her mother. This encouraged Wilder to “do the right thing” and in October 1967 the couple married and Gene adopted Katharine.
The marriage lasted seven years, but they were divorced because of Gene Wilder’s extramarital affair with a younger co-star.
Katharine Wilder’s Children and Family
After breaking all ties with her father at the age of 23, Katharine disappeared from the media radar and very little is known about her recent activities. She probably disappeared from the spotlight to avoid being associated with Gene Wilder. It is not known whether she married or had a family of her own.
Wilder never really got over the fact that his daughter left him and held on to the hope that she would be reconciled with him by the end of 2016. He admitted several times that the “loss” of his daughter was very sad for him.
There were no reports that Katharine visited her father at his wake. His death was announced by his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman, who called himself “Gene’s child”. Although the relationship between father and daughter was questionable, Katharine remained Gene’s adopted daughter, who bore his last name and therefore earned a portion of Wilder’s $20 million net worth. It was speculated that Wilders’ estranged daughter would go after her inheritance, but there was no official confirmation of this.
Facts About Katharine Wilder
1. Katharine is the only child of Gene Wilder
Although the multi-talented man was married four times, Katharine was his only child.
2. Katharine was actually adopted by Gene Wilder.
Katharine is the daughter of Gene Wilder’s second wife. Gene loved her very much and wanted to adopt her after her marriage in 1967.
3. Katharine broke off all contact with her father when she was 23 years old.
Her parents’ divorce and the fact that Gene was unfaithful to her mother devastated her.
4. Katharine never reconciled with her father Gene Wilder.
Although Gene Wilder loved his only daughter deeply and wished they could reconcile again, Katharine never reached out to him until his death in 2016.
5. Katharine held back.
After she was separated from her father, she disappeared completely from the radar of the media. Probably because it was the only way she could avoid being associated with her larger-than-life father, Gene Wilder.