Tributes have poured in for actor and writer Gene Wilder who has died aged 83. Wilder’s death was announced by his family on Monday, who revealed he had been secretly battling Alzheimer’s for three years. After news of his passing broke, friends, colleagues and fellow comedians paid tribute on social media, with many referencing his most famous role as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Gene WilderGene Wilder (pictured with Mel Brooks) has died aged 83

Mel Brooks, who directed Wilder in comedies Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, lead the tributes on Twitter, saying the actor and writer had ‘ blessed’ him with his friendship. “One of the truly great talents of our time,” Brooks wrote. “He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship.”

Comedian and actor Steve Martin added: “Goodbye, Gene Wilder. You were one of the great screen comedians. Original and surprising every time.” Samuel L Jackson wrote: “Gene Wilder, always giving us the Most!! R I P!!!”

Jim Carrey tweeted: “Gene Wilder was one of the funniest and sweetest energies ever to take a human form. If there's a heaven he has a Golden Ticket.” Comedian Sarah Silverman shared: “Hilarious & heartbreaking in the very same moment. #RIP beautiful Gene Wilder there was & will never be anyone like you.”

Speaking to the Press Association Julie Dawn Cole, who played Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, said: "We knew that Gene wasn't in great health but he's a very private man, very dignified, so it's not entirely a surprise, but it's still a very, very sad day. He was very much the father figure of our family.”

In a statement Wilder’s family said: “It is with indescribable sadness and blues, but with spiritual gratitude for the life lived that I announce the passing of husband, parents and universal artist Gene Wilder at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. It is almost unbearable for us to contemplate our life without him.”

They revealed that Wilder had been secretly battling Alzheimer’s for three years but chose to keep his condition a secret. "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,” the statement added. "He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world."