Jordan Walker-Pearlman is the nephew of actor Gene Wilder and announced Wilder’s death on Monday, August 29. Walker-Perlman is a producer and director himself and his father ran a showbiz ad agency.
Here’s a look at Walker-Perlman and what he had to say about his uncle’s death.
1. Walker-Perlman Said Alzheimer’s ‘Never Stole His Ability to Recognize Those That Were Closest to Him’
Walker-Perlman announced Wilder’s death in an emotional statement to Variety. He said that Wilder still knew who those closest to him were, despite suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. His full statement read:
We understand for all the emotional and physical challenges this situation presented we have been among the lucky ones — this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality. The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him “there’s Willy Wonka,” would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.
He continued to enjoy art, music, and kissing with his leading lady of the last twenty-five years, Karen. He danced down a church aisle at a wedding as parent of the groom and ring bearer, held countless afternoon movie western marathons and delighted in the the company of beloved ones.
2. Walker-Perlman’s Father Ran an Advertising Agency & Worked With Wilder
Walker-Perlman’s mother, Corinne, is Wilder’s sister. His father, Gilbert Perlman, also lived a life in showbusiness, but from a different angle. Perlman died in 2011 at age 82, Variety reported at the time.
Perlman co-founded New York’s HB (Herbert Berghoff) Acting Studios and worked with Stanley Kurbick on the marketing for Dr. Strangelove. He went on to own the advertising agency Pearlman and Rowe. He also wrote The Lady in Question and Murder in a Small Town, which both starred Wilder.
3. Walker-Perlman Directed the 2000 Drama ‘The Visit’
Walker-Perlman has also worked in film. In 2000, he made his directing debut with The Visit, which starred Billy Dee Williams, Obba Babatunde and Rae Dawn Chong. The film centers on a young man who is about to die in prison and brings his family together in one last attempt to fix his life.
“Every character in The Visit is renewed in some way by being compelled to love,” Walker-Perlman said in a 2001 interview with the New York Times.
4. He Spent His Holidays With Wilder as a Teenager
In his 2001 interview with The New York Times, Walker-Pearlman said that he spent his holidays with Wilder as a teenager.
“I’d usually be on a set somewhere, and he’d want to go right to the editing room, where he’d sit for hours. I’d say, ‘Don’t you want to do something else, go somewhere or something?’ But he didn’t,'” Walker-Pearlman recalled.
When he was only 17, he got a job at Cannon Pictures in Los Angeles. He said being fired from John Frankenheimer’s 52 Pick-Up was the best thing that ever happened to him.
“It was the best thing that could have happened to me,” Walker-Pearlman said. “If I stayed in Hollywood, either nothing would have happened, and that would have crushed me, or everything would have happened, and that would have been worse. I didn’t know who I was.”
5. His Next Film is Called ‘Ghetto Plainsman’
Just last week, Walker-Pearlman announced that he was making Ghetto Plainsman. It will be his first movie since 2005’s Constellation with Gabrielle Union and a pre-fame Zoe Saldana. It will be executive produced by Karenna Gote, Al Gore’s daughter. Filming will start in New York this fall.
The film is described as:
…A gritty and gripping true story of one man’s journey to find himself, from his abusive rural Ohio childhood, to the violent streets of 90s New York, where he is a drug dealer and self-loathing hustler, to America’s Great Plains, where he comes face to face with similar violence caused by man’s inhumanity towards nature. In the end, a broken man empowers himself into a life of purpose by seeing his connection to all forms of life.