Student Work – Juan Gabriel and Gene Wilder

Juan Gabriel by Roberto Fernandez


Image of Juan Gabriel from Wikipedia



Roberto Fernandez


Juan Gabriel was affectionately called “El Divo de Juarez” by his fans. Divo can be translated as a male Diva. Juan Gabriel wrote more than 1800 songs during his life. He was a gifted singer, actor, businessman, philanthropist and songwriter. When he was younger he acted in several movies as the male lead. His songs have been used in movies, television shows and soap operas for decades, making him an icon and a household name. He was widely believed to be gay although he never confirmed or denied it. In an interview he was asked if he was gay, he replied “ Lo que se ve, no se pregunta.” Which can be translated as “ you don’t ask, what can be clearly seen.”

He was born on January 7th 1950 in Michoacan, under the name Alberto Aguilar Valadez. However, he grew up in Ciudad Juarez near the Texas border. He was the youngest of ten brothers and sisters. During his childhood he spent years in an orphanage until he was reunited with his mother. He travelled to Mexico City a few times trying to get a record deal. On one of his trips he was falsely accused of robbery and sent to prison. After a year and a half he was released because of a lack of evidence. By 19 years old he had already signed a deal with a record label.

Juan Gabriel was very flamboyant, reminiscent of Liberace and he was very patriotic. He refused to sing in English saying “Mexican music must be defended with vigilance…My thoughts, my feelings, my spirit, they are all in Spanish.”

He died on August 28, 2016 in Santa Monica, California from a heart attack. Juan Gabriel led a very private life, not much is known publicly about his estate. However, some consider it to be in the hundreds of millions based on the songs, property and investments he owned. He left behind four children conceived by artificial insemination with his friend Laura Salas. In an interview he claimed she was his best lifelong friend.



Kirk Semple and Elisabeth Malkin. Juan Gabriel’s Death, Like His Music, Brings Mexicans Together, The New York Times (Aug. 29, 2016),

Juan Gabriel, Mexican Singing Superstar- Obituary, The Telegraph Obituaries (Sept. 2,  2016),–obituary/


Gene Wilder by Genesis Parada


Image of Gene Wilder from Wikipedia

Genesis Parada


The film, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” has captivated dozens of generations over the years. Forty-five years after the film was released, the lead actor, Jerome Silberman,  better known as Gene Wilder, died on August 29, 2016 at the age of 83 at home in Stamford, Connecticut from complications of Alzheimers disease.


The American comic, actor, screenwriter, director, and author, Gene Wilder, was known across the globe for his prominent role as Willy Wonka in the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Wilder was born on June 11, 1933, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was the son of Jeanne Baer and William J. Silberman-a manufacturer of miniature whiskey and beer bottles. At age 8, his passion for acting and comedy was brought to life when his mother was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and the doctor told Wilder to “try and make her laugh”.


At age 15, he performed for the first time in front of a paying audience as Balthasar in a play of Romeo & Juliet. Three years after landing his first professional acting job at Herbert Berghof’s production, Charles Grodin convinced him to leave the studio to study Lee Strasberg’s method acting. Months later, Wilder was accepted into the Actors Studio-a membership organization for professional actors currently run by Al Pacino. Wilder then adopted the name “Gene Wilder” at the age of 26. Gene for Eugene Gant, and Wilder for the playwright Thornton Wilder.


Wilder’s film debut was in 1967 in the film “Bonnie & Clyde”. Wilder went on tour around the country with different theatre productions and was featured in a broadcast appearance on CBS of “Death of a Salesman”.  In 1971 he auditioned for his now legacy Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” and accepted the role under one condition: he wanted to make a grand entrance coming out of the factory with a cane and fall into a somersault and get up applauding. By this time he had released three novels, starred in over two dozen movies/productions and even produced his own film, “The Women in Red”. By 1971 he was already nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and won a Primetime Emmy Award in 2000.


He was survived by Katherine Wilder, his daughter, and wife Karen Boyer. Alzheimers is a very mentally deteriorating disease, Wilder and his family took early measures in estate planning. According to a recent article in Forbes, Wilder’s estate has a reported net worth of around $20 million.

Danielle and Andy Mayoras “From Gene Wilder’s Struggle With The ‘Illness-Pirate’”. Forbes (Sep 7, 2016)


Daniel Lewis Gene Wilder Dies at 83; Star of ‘Willy Wonka’ and ‘Young Frankenstein”. Times (Aug 26, 2016)


Allanah Faherty “8 Amazing Facts You Probably Never Knew About Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”. Movie Pilot (Aug 30, 2016)



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