Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner: Longtime Friend Carl Reiner Remembers 'Happiest' Moment For the Couple

Wilder's longtime friend says he and Radner "were really meant for each other. They were two sweet people."

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Few people were able to experience Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner‘s romance like Wilder’s longtime friend Carl Reiner.

“The last time I saw them together was in the South of France in the ’70s,” Reiner tells PEOPLE. “He was holding their little dog and it was nestled in his neck and he had his arm around Gilda. The ocean was behind them and it was a beautiful setting.”

The veteran comedy producer, director, actor and writer says he’ll never forget what Radner said in that moment.

“She said, ‘This is the happiest I’ll ever be,'” Reiner recalls. “It wasn’t long after that she passed away. They were really meant for each other. They were two sweet people.”

Wilder died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease Sunday night at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. Radner died in 1989 from ovarian cancer.

“He was a very quiet and soft-spoken man. Back in the day we would meet every Sunday on the tennis court,” adds Reiner. “He was the most talented actor and sneaky actor. He would emote and it sort of slipped out of him. You were always amazed about how good he was. What other actor can fall in love with a sheep? Other actors you might be upset or put off by that but with him you totally accepted it and fell in love with him.”

Wilder married Karen Boyer in 1991.

“He continued to enjoy art, music, and kissing with his leading lady of the last 25 years, Karen,” said his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman in a statement. “He danced down a church aisle at a wedding as parent of the groom and ring bearer, held countless afternoon movie western marathons and delighted in the company of beloved ones.”

Reporting by Mia McNiece

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