Gene Wilder, who died Aug. 29 at the age of 83, was not a particularly religious man. “I’m going to tell you what my religion is,” he told Abigail Pogrebin in 2005 as part of her book Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish (according to an excerpt printed in Tablet Magazine). “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Period. Terminato. Finito. I have no other religion. I feel very Jewish and I feel very grateful to be Jewish. But I don’t believe in God or anything to do with the Jewish religion.”
But while Wilder might not have believed in a divine authority, one of his best-known characters—Willy Wonka from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory—echoes a bit of the Almighty at times. Pull out your golden tickets and let me show you what I mean.