'Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory' 50th Anniversary Reunion: Get A Golden Ticket For A Trip Down Memory Lane

Fifty years ago, Gene Wilder did a somersault down a red carpet while sporting a top hat and purple velvet suit before opening the gates to invite viewers into the wonderful, whimsical world of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Director Mel Stuart delivered a fantastic fantasy film with artistic set design, colorful costumes, and cooky characters that still entertain audiences to this day. To celebrate the film's 50-year release, the lucky golden ticket winners themselves got together to reminisce working on the magical movie.

Based on the children's book by Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory tells the story of an impoverished paperboy named Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) who, despite all odds, wins a golden ticket to visit Wonka's secret chocolate factory. He joins four other lucky kids from all over the world on the tour: Veruca Salt (Julie Dawn Cole), Augustus Gloop (Michael Bollner), Violet Beauregarde (Denise Nickerson), and Mike Teevee (Paris Themmen). The kids are put to the test by Wonka after they move through various parts of the factory that test their patience, fascinations, and eagerness to not only eat all the candy they can but keep the factory's secrets as well. Whoever successfully passes Wonka's morality test is gifted the ultimate prize at the end of the tour.

Ostrum, Bollner, Themmen, and Cole all reunited over Zoom to share sweet memories on set and celebrate half a century of the film's success. Check out the video below:

Ostrum reveals that he and Wilder would share a chocolate bar every day after lunch which served as a special tradition with the renowned actor.

In true German fashion, Bollner is sporting Lederhosen and talks about that uncomfortable scene where Augustus gets stuck in the tube from the chocolate river. Far from her salty and sassy character, Cole lovingly reminisces about her co-star Nickerson who unfortunately passed away in 2019. Cole voiced that Denise Nickerson was always very patient and kind to her fans, always staying late at conventions to sign autographs.

Themmen emphasizes that their time on the film was like having their own Disneyland ride that only they got to experience. All of them agreed they are still very much a family and that the film's legacy has significantly impacted fans for decades.

We Are The Music-Makers and We Are The Dreamers of Dreams

The recipe that made Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory so successful is the film's heart just as much as the movie's practical effects and music. The story of the underdog winning never gets old and the psychedelic aesthetic of the '70s is prevalent throughout the film's set design thanks to art director Harper Goff. Each character also brings a unique aspect to childhood that viewers can relate to such things as impulsiveness, an obsession with television, sugar cravings, competitiveness, and even sometimes having to take care of your family from a young age. Thematically, the film's relevancy is timeless and the art put into bringing Dahl's story to life is still impressive to this day.

It's no wonder so many adaptations have evolved from the 1971 original. While Tim Burton's remake was a miss, I do look forward to seeing Timothee Chalamet tackle Willy Wonka. Known for his alluring and sweet yet sour demeanor, I am very curious what kind of Willy Wonka version Chalamet will cook up for audiences. Until then, it's nice to know the original still holds so many magical memories.