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

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  4,263 ratings  ·  505 reviews
Gene Wilder was 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 ...more
Paperback, 261 pages
Published March 7th 2006 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2005)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  4,263 ratings  ·  505 reviews

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Dec 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a good memoir. I didn't know a lot about Gene's personal life and it was fun to read about his time making Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles (although he didn't write as much about Blazing Saddles as I would have liked). It was a quick read and I do recommend it especially if you are a fan.

Just a little addition to my review- in light of the fact that Gene Wilder passed away from complications of Alzheimer's disease this week. This is a good book written by Gene. May he rest in
Tara♥ {MindforBooks}
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this about 10 years ago and it's still in my top five autobiographies. Such a fascinating man. RIP Gene Wilder.

Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
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.
Feb 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
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
Sean Peters
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Autobiography/Biography number 9 finished today.

I loved some of Gene Wilder films, making some of the best comedies of recent years, Silver Streak, Woman In Red, Young Frankenstein, and Willy Wonka but to me especially See No Evil, Hear No Evil.

So was he like his screen personality in real life... I am not sure.

Read his autobiography but feel I still do not know his personality that well, and want I did find out through reading the book, to me he was not quite as a carefree cheerful character as
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
When I first started reading this book, I felt uncomfortable -- maybe even a little embarrassed. It was almost like eavesdropping on a therapy session. But then, after a few chapters, I realized something -- Gene Wilder was being totally honest. He was sharing what he really thought, giving his real opinion, and telling about things he did or said, regardless of whether they would be judged as good or bad by his readers.

Don't read this book expecting Gene to be funny. Watch his movies for that.
Una Tiers
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
For someone who was a brilliant actor, he didn't write all that well. His topics were self-centered. His side of the Gilda Radner relationship was surprisingly cool, in a distant, egocentric manner.
While I loved his work, now I realize the adage about watching sausage being made.
Kressel Housman
After Gene Wilder’s death last week, I binged on interviews he did at various stages of his career. The most poignant was in 2013 at the 92nd Street Y because you can see that he was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but the most in-depth interview, unsurprisingly, was with Terry Gross in promotion of this book. The interview, like the book, covers his personal life as well as his career, but included things he never went public with anywhere else. The most notable of these, and the thing that ...more
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
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 ...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
Sep 06, 2011 added it
An interesting memoir, a real sharing of a life and times, with some profound insights. I've always liked him and found him facinating. It's well written, he uses an intermittant conversation with his therapist as a writing tool which works well. Very engaging. He was mentioned at a writing class I took last summer and it piqued my interest, I didn't know he was an author.
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was so excited to read this book...I was greatly looking forward to learning more about the man who kept me captivated as a child watching Willy Wonka; & the man who kept me laughing as an adult watching Young Frankenstein & Blazing Saddles.
While this book delves into Gene's at times odd childhood & his experiences as an adult in the acting world, it left me feeling sorry that I had read it. I think the thing that bothered me the most was when he spoke of Gilda has
May 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful, warm, flawed human being. Gene Wilder reads the audiobook of his own memoir in his own gentle voice. I most enjoyed the parts about his training as an actor, and his creative process. In a way, the book seems too short after his career takes off. People seem to pass by in a blur: Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Mike Nichols, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Peter Sellers, etc.

There are some interesting insights into Richard Pryor, although Pryor remained a bit of a mystery to Wilder.
Feb 02, 2011 rated it really liked 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 ...more
Casey Danielson
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jun 29, 2013 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
Jan 05, 2009 rated it liked it
I wish Goodreads had 1/2 stars because I actually would have given this 2 1/2 stars. I picked this book up because I had heard of the great love story between Gene Wildre and Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer at the age of 43 while they were married. If you read this book for the reason I did, you will be disappointed as he doesn't even mention Gilda's name until Chapter 25 (page 187 of a 247 page book). I was also disappointed in him as a person -- he cheated on his first wife, he left ...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,
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I listened to this on audible. Gene reads it himself and that made it for me. I enjoyed hearing his thoughts on art, creativity, acting, directing and painting. I think he is very honest about himself, who he is, and so forth.

You can not like his choices or his behavior but that does not mean his story isn't valuable. And it is his life. He made his choices and he reflects on them with honesty.

I also think the later part of the book where he talks about cancer (his and Gilda's) is useful. It is
Jul 20, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Ellen Puccinelli
Feb 03, 2009 rated it liked it
I'm hung way up on Gene Wilder. He's not a terrible writer, either. He sounds like you would expect him to sound, and I liked his story. I had read the autobiography of his late wife, Gilda Radner, as well, which focused on her battle with ovarian cancer, and I liked that their accounts of their marriage were quite similar. He seems like an honest, quirky, imperfect, sincere man. I'm even more hung up on him now.
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
I should know better than to try to read the memoirs of actors I like. I just can't help it sometimes.
Nov 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
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 ...more
Aug 23, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Peter Boyle
Gene Wilder has always held a unique fascination for me. I'll never forget watching Willy Wonka on TV as a child; I was simultaneously enthralled and terrified. I clearly remember cowering behind an armchair during the infamous boat scene. Later on I discovered his comedy talents in the films like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. So I was naturally curious to learn a bit more about him.

But be forewarned - this autobiography does not focus on Wilder's film career. It mainly concentrates on
Carina Pereira
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I got this as audiobook.

I saw a lot of bad reviews about this book, regarding Gene Wilder's character more than anything else. Maybe because I don't know a lot about his work and I knew even less about him personally, the book didn't ruin any preconception about him I might have had, and it was an enjoyable read. Sure, he took a lot of misteps, specially in what regarded being faithful to his wives (yes, plural - 4 of them), but the account he makes of his life seems honest and open. I did enjoy
Leah L Mills
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
wow. .. If you want an intimate portrait of the intelligent and hilarious Gene Wilder, I would highly recommend giving this a read. He provides insight into the movies he has done as well as the relationships he has had. At times it made me want to cry and at others, a laugh would bubble in my throat. he's painfully honest and never pours the vaseline on the lense to get the desired effect. This man is an inspiration of mine, both in writing and comic acting; and this book has brought me closer ...more
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Gene Wilder was an American Emmy Award-winning and twice Academy Award-nominated stage and screen comic actor, screenwriter, film director, and author.

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
“Which one of us, anywhere in the world, doesn't yearn to be believed when the audience is watching?” 13 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” 7 likes
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