Katharine Wilder is an American actor and the adopted daughter of legendary actor, screenwriter, director, and producer Gene Wilder. Katharine was born to Mary Joan Schutz through her previous marriage. When Mary, a friend of Wilder’s sister, began dating him, Katharine started calling him “dad.” This led the actor to feel that "the right thing to do" was to marry Mary and adopt Katharine, and he did exactly as he felt. He adopted Katharine the same year he married Mary. The marriage lasted for 7 years, with Katharine doubting that Wilder was having an affair with Madeline Kahn, his co-star from ‘Young Frankenstein.’ This affected the otherwise strong relationship between Katharine and Wilder, and Katharine eventually severed all ties with Wilder. Wilder, who wrote several novels and memoirs, also wrote a book for Katharine, titled ‘Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art.’ However, he doubted if his daughter would ever read it. Katharine has appeared in the films ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ and ‘Branagh Theatre Live: Romeo and Juliet’ and in the TV series ‘Frontier.’
Katharine Wilder shot to fame, garnering both media and public attention, after famous Hollywood actor, screenwriter, singer-songwriter, director, producer, and author Gene Wilder adopted her as his daughter. She remained the only child of Wilder, who had married four times in his life. Katharine is the biological daughter of Mary Joan Schutz, a friend of Wilder’s sister, Corinne. In 1965, a few months after Wilder divorced his first wife, Mary Mercier, he started dating Katharine’s mother. Eventually, Katharine began calling him “dad,” which led Wilder to feel that he should marry Katharine’s mother and adopt Katharine. On October 27, 1967, he married Mary Joan Schutz. He then adopted Katharine the same year. Things went well initially, with Wilder and Katharine developing a strong father–daughter bond. The marriage between Wilder and Mary, however, hit the rocks after 7 years, resulting in their separation. Katharine suspected her adoptive father was involved in an extramarital affair with Madeline Kahn, his co-star from ‘Young Frankenstein,’ and held this affair responsible for the breakdown of her mother’s marriage with Wilder.
The divorce of Wilder and Mary not only ended the couple’s relationship but also estranged Wilder from Katharine. According to sources, Katharine broke all ties with Wilder and probably could never forgive him. In a 2002 interview with Larry King, Wilder spoke about having a daughter and losing her when she was around 22 or 23 years of age. Wilder also wrote a book titled ‘Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art’ for Katharine and released it in March 2005. Even though he doubted whether Katharine would ever read the book, he remained hopeful that if she did so, things might get better between the two. During the release of the book, he spoke candidly on Katharine. Although Wilder expressed his misery of “losing” his daughter and hoped that Katharine would reconcile one day, according to sources, this never happened. Wilder died in August 2016, while listening to one of his favorite songs, ‘Over the Rainbow’ by Ella Fitzgerald. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and was 83 at the time of his death.
Katharine has featured in a few on-screen productions. She played ‘Peta/Apothecary’ in the 2016-released romantic film ‘Branagh Theatre Live: Romeo and Juliet’ and a prostitute in the 2017-released mystery–thriller film ‘Murder on the Orient Express.’ In 2017, she earned the role of ‘Chaulk’ in the Canadian historical period drama series ‘Frontier.’
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Family & Personal Life
Katharine was born in the US. Not much is known about her early life, and there is no clarity regarding her date of birth, the name of her biological father, or her educational qualification, except that she was born to Mary Joan Schutz from the latter’s previous marriage. Katharine has also not revealed anything about her relationship status, and it seems that she prefers to keep her personal life away from the limelight. She is not too active on social media.