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Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  2,409 ratings  ·  284 reviews
Gene Wilder is one of the great comic actors who defined the 1970's and 1980's in movies. From his early 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 s ...more
Paperback, 261 pages
Published March 7th 2006 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2005)
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Aug 29, 2007 Meagan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any vaguely creative person, anywhere
Shelves: 5stars
Amazing, amazing, amazing. I've always loved Gene Wilder, and usually I shy away from autobios by people I love, just for the simple fact that I might end up not liking them as much once I hear them speak. But Gene Wilder is Gene Wilder, and I snatched this up as soon as I found it.

I was not disappointed. He was different than I thought he'd be - of course - but there were so many things I could relate and sympathize to, I was suprised. It was one of those wonderful realizations of finding a kin
Before reading this book, I was a huge fan of Gene Wilder and included him on my list of "Celebrities I'd Like to Get a Drink With." I am still a fan of and believe that he is one of the funniest actors ever, but I no longer want to have a drink with him. Why? Because this book made me realize on thing: Gene Wilder is kind of an asshole.
I read this after reading Gilda Radner's "It's Always Something". I thought it would be interesting to read the other side of the story and see what his perspective was. I had come away from Gilda's book with the idea that Gene Wilder was a saint. From his book, I concluded that he is altogether human, with faults and all. Still, he comes across as very down-to-earth, humble, and unfailingly kind.

He went through a lot of tough times, in his career and his personal life. With regards to Gilda, a
Callie Rose Tyler
I once saw a meme that pinned Gene Wilder's Wonka against Johnny Depp's and it said something to the effect that Wilder is a nobody and Depp is an acting god, it annoyed me. Now I had a wall of Depp pictures that I had cut out from magazines but I will be the first to say that Wilder's Willy Wonka was far superior to Depp's very entertaining rendition. Also, Gene Wilder has been in many other amazing films...Young Frankenstein, The Producers, Blazing Saddles and the Richard Prior/Gene Wilder fil ...more
Samantha Glasser
In Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder's character says, "A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men." This idea has become his persona in the movies which has brought him many fans over the years. Wilder, star of hits like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, has written his autobiography. The title Kiss Me Like A Stranger was given to him by his late wife Gilda Radner of Saturday Night Live fame. While they were married, she vivaciously yelled out the title ...more
Okay, first off, let's just get this off the table before we do anything else. Is there really anybody in the whole world who wants to know the intimate details of Willy Wonka's love life? Hm. Right. I thought not. Now that that's cleared up.
This predictably egocentric book about the jerk that is Gene Wilder reaches a point of inane self-obsession when Wilder asserts that his pre-marriage affair with Gilda Radner was the supreme act of unselfishness on his part. I had no idea when I picked up t
Gene Wilder strikes me as somebody who has been holding back his whole life to protect himself from anxieties, which are probably genetic and triggered when his mom first fell ill. He uses acting to feel all the things he's too afraid to feel in real life. It's not really all that complicated, but he never seems to come out and say it point blank despite the "therapist" he talks to throughout. Or if he did, I missed it between all the tedious details of his career that could have been found on i ...more
Jun 29, 2013 tina added it
I've been brooding over this one. Things I didn't know about Gene Wilder: he's written many screen plays, he adopted a daughter, he studied acting quite a bit, and he's a part of the Actor's Studio. I had an affection for Gene Wilder. He's someone I always liked seeing on the screen, starting with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to Young Frankenstein to pretty much anything. But I probably should have been a bit more cautious about buying his book. I'd heard that he was doing a reading of ...more
I recently listened to Gene Wilder's 2006 memoir Kiss Me Like a Stranger while driving around Los Angeles. This is not a traditional life story memoir, but a series of moments that Wilder has chosen that exemplify the lessons of his life that taught him about two specific subjects: acting and women. Wilder honestly depicts how these two things have criss-crossed that made him the actor and man that he is. I'm not a big memoir fan, so was kind of into the non-traditional set-up of this rather tha ...more
Joy H.
Added 4/6/08.
I read the hard copy of this book sometime before April 2008. The book was first published in 2005.

10/24/11 - I am currently listening to an audio version of this book, read by the author. It's fascinating. Lots of interesting peeks behind the scenes of the entertainment industry. The personal remembrances of Gene Wilder are extremely interesting and the charm of his personality comes through as you hear his words. He seems like such a humble person and very likable. As I listen, it
This short, charming autobiography is unlike any other actor bio I have ever read. Instead of hashing out major notable career moments and gossipy stories, he focuses on his own neuroses, women, and major lessons in acting from his life. In this way, the book provides infinitely more insight into Wilder's character than more traditional biographies. And despite the lack of trashy content, Wilder does not sugar coat people in his life (particularly Gilda) and it's refreshing to have a writer allo ...more
Sep 12, 2014 Sara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoir
This book kind of made me hate Gene Wilder. I'm not particularly happy about that. It hit me like a sucker punch to the gut. The Spartan, cold writing I've so loved in his fiction managed to turn a man I've always viewed as compassionate, sensitive, and wonderfully creative into a cold, self satisfied, sex obsessed narcissist with absolutely no grasp on how to interact with other human beings in any meaningful way. Sure he has lots of "dear friends" and an endless series of "charming dinners" wi ...more
this book is a toss-up. i love gene wilder and was super excited about the book. unfortunately, it's poorly written and a bit disturbing. gene has kind of a fucked up childhood or maybe he just makes it seem that way because he's so overly dramatic and such a bad writer. nonetheless, the book is great for details about the projects he's worked on and trivia like that Young Frankinstein was his script and project.
Casey Danielson
Dag, I forgot how effortless a writer Mr. Wilder is. This is my third book of his, and the first non-fiction. Reading this autobiography is like sitting and catching up with an old friend—sit back and relax, and get ready to smile to yourself on your mass-transit system of choice. If you haven't read Wilder's fiction, DO IT!
I should know better than to try to read the memoirs of actors I like. I just can't help it sometimes.
I went in to the book hoping for illumination and a bolstering of the grandeur I already associated with Gene Wilder. So, my bad. This is a very demystifying, disillusioning book. I very much liked how it was written. At times his tone seemed to betray his gentleness and emotional depth, but after considering the moments this problem crops up, I'd ascribe that to a rough balancing act - writing a book about artistic ambitions and navigating his own romantic life. I think most people will wish he ...more
I listened to this on CD & thoroughly enjoyed the hours of Wilder's voice (I love it when the author narrates their own memoir!)
He has a terrific "voice" as a writer & comes across as a loving, sensitive man.
This was a GREAT read. I enjoyed Gene's perspective on life and relationships. There is a lot to be found between the lines in this one. It's a quick, entertaining, highly edible book!
Ellen Maze
Every page was a delight and so deep into Gene's personal life. He held nothing back. You will learn things about our friend that will surprise you!
Mark Farley
Growing up I used to love the Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor films and wore out my recorded version of 'See No Evil, Hear No Evil' from the telly. They just had such great chemistry. His dark portrayal of Willa Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate was mesmerising too, so much better than Johnny Depp's effort. So for me, it was a great insight into his life. Its more of a memoir than an autobiography though and my one criticism was that it just wasn't long enough and left so much out. I hope he revi ...more
Kim Arlia
Funny and different. Another view of Gilda Radner whose book I have read. I love Gene Wilder and was surprised to discover his quirks.
I love Gene Wilder's movies. So there. His memoir was well-written, odd, and darn interesting. Says me.
I have no idea why I read this book -- downloaded as a whim. I enjoyed it, and I like his simple, straightforward prose. It wasn't knock-your-socks-off profound, and it wasn't funny, but it was real. When I read reviews of other readers who thought he came across as unsympathetic, I was tempted to bump up my rating in protest. He is honest. That includes the parts of his life when he was not mature, not very wise, sometimes actively troubled. He doesn't dwell on his pain or confusion, but he rep ...more
Emma Jane
I've always found Gene Wilder intriguing since his brilliant performance in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. Although at times I found his opinions somewhat grating, he pulls no punches and speaks his mind, I admired his candour. A pretty interesting perspective on Hollywood, getting films made - he wrote the quite hilarious Young Frankenstein which I immediately went and watched, and why he doesn't do much acting nowadays, preferring to pen novels. Might read one of those too. I think if yo ...more
What a fantastic and fascinating read!

I really loved finding out more about Gene Wilder and his life and career through this really personal and telling memoir. Much-like an interview I saw with Wilder from way, way back — here the author gets into some of the finer details without getting to impolite or intrusive into the 'kiss and tell,' intimate and more private aspects of his experience.

Wilder proves to be one of the most thoughtful and tender people I've ever read about within his circle o
Jack Clemens
Wilder is very honest and vulnerable here. There's only a page or so covering some of his bigger roles. He does document the making of Young Frankenstein or at least its birth to a great detail and if you're looking for acting or thoughts on the craft of acting I think he gives you some pages to chew on. Overall it's what I expected. He did not come off as one who was looking back with nostalgia or sentimentalism. He seems to want to tell the truth and I think that's worth the read alone.
Donna Davis
Life is strange. I read Wilder's autobiography because I read Gilda Radner's. I have enjoyed a lot more of her work than his; a lot of his comedy seems sort of slapstick (though he has written, produced, and directed a lot, and it may be I've seen some of this work and not recalled it as his).

But when push comes to shove, he writes a better memoir. Radner's is intense, but one also gets the sense that as a person, she's kind of handful, and so I felt I had to read her through a filter of sorts.
Ok I usually read more Musician biographies than movie stars but I did enjoy reading Comedian(s) Richard Pryor & Steve Martin's books which I decided to read also Gene's book when I saw it. I grew up watching his slap stick movies along with the other two I just mentioned. I am a big fan of the cult (original) movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory - even though he doesn't get into much about that movie, he does seem to fit perfectly with Willy Wonka's personality on why he was perfect ...more
So this was actually absorbed via an audio book, while I traveled east and back this summer. I knew it was going to be long and haven't been able to find the time to read lately, so I figured I would give the audio book a go. I have to say that I did not have high expectations of the book. Biographies, for me, are a matter of curiosity, of wanting to take a different look or gain a different perspective on someone else's life. If that someone happens to be famous I find I usually like the writin ...more
I was introducted and fell in love with Gene Wilder in the original 'Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory' which is one of my favorite movies. He was brilliant, quirky and for the most part, annoyed by youth. It was the perfect blend of a character initially created by Roald Dahl and brought to life by Wilder. I got to know him a little better and our relationship progressed in 'Blazing Saddles' which is the epitome of hilarious non-PC humor that people fear laughing at and look around first ...more
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Gene Wilder is an American Emmy Award-winning and twice Academy Award-nominated stage and screen actor, director and screenwriter.

Wilder began his career on stage, making his screen debut in the film Bonnie and Clyde in 1967. His first major role was as Leo Bloom in the 1968 film, The Producers. This was the first in a series of prolific collaborations with writer/director Mel Brooks, including 19
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“Which one of us, anywhere in the world, doesn't yearn to be believed when the audience is watching?” 9 likes
“If the physical thing you're doing is funny, you don't have to act funny while doing it...Just be real and it will be funnier” 3 likes
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