When Brooks was filming “Blazing Saddles,” one of his main actors, Dan Dailey, who was meant to play the Waco Kid, suddenly dropped out. Brooks immediately called his old pal Wilder, who was in London at the time about to start filming for a movie adaptation of “The Little Prince.”
Wilder flew back to the U.S., filmed his scenes for “Blazing Saddles,” and returned to England to finish “The Little Prince.” While not many people remember “The Little Prince,” Brooks’s “Blazing Saddles” became a classic. Can you imagine the legendary comedy film without Wilder in it? Yeah, neither can we.
Wilder Rose Back to Fame With Woody Allen
After a couple of projects he was involved in didn't quite receive the recognition they were due, the quirky actor was on the lookout for a new project in the hopes that it would be a hit. Reeling from the commercial flop that was “Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory,” Wilder agreed to take on the now-famous role of Dr. Ross in Woody Allen’s new movie.
The 1972 film, titled “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask),” was a commercial success. With a budget of $2 million, the film grossed more than $18 million.
Wilder Wrote the Start of “Young Frankenstein”
After starring in Woody Allen’s 1972 hit comedy film, Wilder started to write a script of his own — “Young Frankenstein.” After finishing two pages, he called his friend Mel Brooks to ask for his opinion, to which Brooks simply responded, “it’s cute.” He didn't know it at the time but he was about to become a lot more enthusiastic about this script.
The project was left in the air until finally Brooks agreed to do it, seeing as his last two films hadn’t done well commercially. In 1974, “Young Frankenstein” was released, and it was a huge commercial success.
Wilder Was Also a Director
It seems that Wilder's first attempt at creating his own project (rather than acting in other people's) just made him hungry for more. While he was filming the epic “Young Frankenstein,” Wilder started writing a full-length script of an idea he’d had for a romantic musical comedy titled “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother.”
The film became Wilder’s directorial debut and a commercial success, featuring prominent actors of the time, such as Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman. With a budget of $2 million, it made over $20 million at the box office. Not bad for his first time directing!
His First Meeting With Richard Pryor
At the end of 1975, Wilder received a script for a film titled “Super Chief.” Wilder liked the idea but figured the movie was at risk of being misrepresenting the black comminuty, so he said he could star in only if Richard Pryor was cast to make sure the film wasn’t offensive. The demand paid off because he and Pryor ended up making history as Hollywood’s first successful interracial movie comedy duo.
The film was renamed “Silver Streak,” and it became a box-office success, with critics and viewers praising its hilarious storyline. Wilder knew what he was doing, and so did Pryor!