When it burst into cinemas across the globe way back in 1971, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was the first time Roald Dahl’s legendary children’s book had been adapted for the screen.
Later remakes came in 2005, with Johnny Depp starring as the elusive Willy Wonka – and it’s even been made into video games, stage musicals and radio plays.
It’s even spawned an animated version in 2017, with the release of Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, with the titular cat and mouse injected into the world of the 1971 film.
Many of its child stars chose to take a step back from acting after they were thrust into the limelight at such an early age, but they’re still clearly attached to the movie that made them famous.
From tragic deaths to strange career shifts, we take a look at what the cast are up to now.
Charlie Bucket – Peter Ostrum
American-born Peter Ostrum was just 12 years old when he secured the role of Charlie Bucket.
He was first noticed for his acting after appearing in a school musical, and shipped out to Munich to film for the movie.
He was tutored on-set in exchange for his usual schooling, and his original singing voice actually made it to the big screen rather than being dubbed over.
Acting as all-singing all-dancing Charlie turned out to be the star’s only film role, as he declined the offer of signing a three-film contract after filming wrapped because he wanted "the freedom to choose what he played, and in what picture".
Instead, he changed his career entirely – and is now a vet.
Peter attended Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine after becoming interested in horses while filming for Willy Wonka, and received his doctorate in 1984.
According to his clinic’s website, he recently featured on a reality show entitled Vets on Call.
But Peter wasn’t entirely finished with Charlie Bucket, as he regularly gives talks to school-kids about his starring role and appearing at various events when the 2005 film released.
He married wife Loretta M Lepkowski in the late 1980s, and the couple have two children together.
Violet Beauregarde – Denise Nickerson
Best known for her character Violet blowing up like a blueberry, Denise Nickerson went on to various roles throughout her acting career.
She appeared in TV series The Electric Company as Allison for 130 episodes between 1972 and 1973, and even made an appearance in The Brady Bunch.
Her last on-screen role came in 1978, when she starred at ‘Larry’ Wilde in Zero to Sixty.
Denise’s first ever acting job came when she was aged just five years old, when she starred as Wendy’s daughter in Peter Pan at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami.
After quitting acting, she went on to become a receptionist and later an accountant in a doctor’s office, but appeared at various fan conventions and a 2001 documentary into the making of the movie.
Tragically, Denise suffered a severe stroke in 2018 and was hospitalised.
Despite great care from her family, friends and medical team, she sadly died in 2019 after suffering a huge seizure and contracting pneumonia, aged just 62.
Veruca Salt – Julie Dawn Cole
Julie Dawn Cole was born in Surrey, and shot to fame as Veruca Salt in the hit musical when she was just 12.
Julie’s own vocals were used in her iconic track I Want It Now, though she recorded them separately in a studio and mimed to the music on-set.
She went on to have starring roles in ITV sitcom And Mother Makes Three, BBC medical drama Angels, and the first run of Poldark in 1976. She’s even appeared in Emmerdale.
Her most recent on-screen role was as Pam Feeny in BBC medical drama Holby City, in 2012 and 2013.
But acting wasn’t all she wanted to do, as she qualified as a fitness instructor back in 1998 and subsequently went on to find work as a psychotherapist.
Promoting her 2011 memoir I Want It Now: a Memoir of Life on the Set of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Julie admitted to From The Mixed Up Files blog that she didn’t even include the movie on her CV at the time.
"It didn’t do well at the box office. In fact for many years, I hardly mentioned it, and I think for a while I left it off my resumé as it wasn’t relevant. [It] was a kids’ movie and not a very popular one," she confessed.
Mike Teavee – Paris Themmen
Boston-born Paris Themmen found his first screen role in playing telly-obsessed youngster Mike Teavee in Willy Wonka.
Before being cast, he had largely appeared in TV and radio adverts, but did make an appearance on Broadway in 1967 in the play Mame.
He declared a hiatus from acting aged 14 as he wanted to concentrate on "just being a kid", but he later appeared in various shows including Star Trek: Voyager, and made appearances as himself on chat shows including Daybreak in 2011.
Paris eventually decided to start up a career in real estate, and has also dabbled in film production, commercial casting and photography.
He married wife Nikki Grillos in 2014, and the pair have both competed in US game show Jeopardy! – but no mention was made of Paris' Willy Wonka appearance.
Augustus Gloop – Michael Bollner
German-born Michael admitted he couldn’t speak a lot of English at the time of his filming for Willy Wonka.
His house was located so close to the film set that he didn’t even have a dressing room at the studio, as he could simply walk home and change clothes.
Though he wanted to pursue acting as a career, Michael’s dad made him finish his education, and he now owns his own accounting firm in Munich.
Upon Gene Wilder’s tragic death in 2016, he paid tribute to the "great guy" who was "very funny", confessing: "I didn’t have a huge amount of contact with him as my English was very poor at that time and his German wasn’t so good.
"I regret not speaking to him again in the years after the film when my English had improved."
Willy Wonka – Gene Wilder
Titular star of the film, Gene Wilder always kept his fellow actors on their toes.
He tragically died in 2016 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, aged 83.
According to his family, Gene peacefully passed away while listening to one of his favourite songs – Over the Rainbow by Ella Fitzgerald.
In a sweet move at the time of his death, Peter Ostrum’s Wikipedia page was changed to include that he “inherited a chocolate factory in 2016” under the Occupation heading.
Unfortunately, it has since reverted back to displaying ‘Actor’ and ‘Veterinarian’, but the actor's legacy as the iconic character lives on.
In his acting career, Gene was notorious for his quirky on-set characteristics.
Director Mel Stuart admitted in a 2011 interview that he had no idea how Gene would read the terrifying Wonkatania Boat poem. during the transcendental cruising scene.
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And the kids were convinced he actually needed a cane to walk before he performed an impressive backflip when leaving the factory for the first time.
But his own life wasn’t free of tragedy – his third wife Gilda Radner sadly passed away from ovarian cancer in 1989, leading to Gene’s active involvement in helping to found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Centre in LA.
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