ByIan M. Simpson, writer at
I love superheroes and villains alike! I'm also a big fan of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Gaming! Follow me on Twitter! @The_Simpsonian
Ian M. Simpson

There are many films that I fell in love with during my childhood, but few had quite the impact that Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory did. It's a classic story adapted from Roald Dahl's novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Decades later, not even Tim Burton's adaptation of the story could take away from the universal love of the original film.

Willy Wonka was released on June 30th, 1971 — 45 years ago today! After nearly half a century, the kids from Wonka's are all grown up. Let's take a look:

Peter Ostrum — Charlie Bucket

Peter Ostrum then and now.
Peter Ostrum then and now.

This is usually the part where I tell you all about Peter Ostrum's various acting roles after Willy Wonka, but surprisingly enough, his trip to the chocolate factory was his only acting endeavor. After he survived the factory and inherited Wonka's fortune, he was offered a three-film contract, but decided that he didn't want to pursue acting as a career.

Instead, he finished school and became a veterinarian. He now cares for cows and horses in New York. I guess he's just more of an animal person than a chocolate person.

Denise Nickerson — Violet Beauregarde

Violet Beauregarde probably still chews gum.
Violet Beauregarde probably still chews gum.

Unlike her co-star Peter Ostrum, Denise kept acting for years following Willy Wonka. She turned to television after her big movie break, taking part in the PBS series The Electric Company for a few years before appearing in an episode of The Brady Bunch.

She went back to movies for a while, playing roles in Smile, The Dark Side of Innocence, and Zero to Sixty. Once she turned 21, she decided to step away from acting and became a hospital clerk. After a few marriages and a few moves, Denise wound up working as an accountant in Colorado.

Michael Bollner — Augustus Gloop

Augustus "The Glutton" Gloop.
Augustus "The Glutton" Gloop.

Michael Bollner wound up much like a combination of Peter Ostrum and Denise Nickerson after he fell into that chocolate river in Wonka's factory. Like Ostrum, Willy Wonka was Bollner's only film — his father insisted that he focus on his education instead.

He never went back to acting and went into accounting like Nickerson. He now has his own accounting firm in Germany where he works as a tax accountant.

Julie Dawn Cole — Veruca Salt

Julie Dawn Cole continued acting.
Julie Dawn Cole continued acting.

Willy Wonka was the first of many, many acting credits for Julie Dawn Cole. The girl who really wanted an Oompa Loompa strayed away from film acting to focus on television roles like Angels and The Many Wives of Patrick. She also acted in a few stage plays and showed up in a few movies as well; she even co-starred with Roger Moore in a flick called That Lucky Touch.

She continued acting in television shows until 2013, before moving on to try out life as a psychotherapist. In the early 2000s, she started her own drama school for child actors called Centrestage.

Paris Themmen — Mike Teevee

Themmen left acting behind.
Themmen left acting behind.

Just as Mike Teevee shrunk in Wonka's factory, Themmen's acting roles diminished post-Willy Wonka as well. Once he hit fourteen years old, he decided that he just wanted to be a normal kid and left acting behind, though as an adult he would perform sporadically in small television roles in Macross Plus and Star Trek: Voyager.

He attended NYU and got a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts before traveling around the world. When he came back, he tried out a variety of different jobs including financial advisor, real estate broker, and even film production. He is now in charge of a photography business, but he makes sure to attend conventions and sign autographs for loyal fans.

Gene Wilder — Willy Wonka

Gene Wilder became a comedy legend.
Gene Wilder became a comedy legend.

Willy Wonka himself had quite a productive acting career after he turned over his chocolate factory to Charlie. If you are a Mel Brooks fan, you've seen Wilder appear in the influential comedies Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein.

He went in to act in a great number of movies including Rhinoceros, Stir Crazy, The Woman in Red, and See No Evil, Hear No Evil. He retired from film in the 1990s, but went on to act sporadically on television, most notably a couple of episodes of NBC's Will & Grace in the early 2000s.

After acting, he took to pen and paper to express in talents. He wrote a memoir in 2005 titled Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art. He also wrote several novels, including My French Whore, The Woman Who Wouldn't, and Something to Remember You By.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of the most fun and whimsical stories even 45 years later and its influence can still be found across popular culture. There are Willy Wonka Pop! Funko figures, Wonka chocolate bars, and even Wonka phone cases. The movie is perfect for all ages — yes, even the creepy tunnel scene. Willy Wonka continues to be a family classic.


Who's your favorite 'Willy Wonka' character?



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