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LIFE Willy Wonka

LIFE Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

LIFE celebrates the 50th anniversary of the beloved family classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory with a veritable chocolate river of stories and photos. The book features a collection of gorgeous behind-the-scenes photographs that reveal the merriment and mayhem of the original movie set. It also tells the improbable story of how Roald Dahl's book was ever filmed in the first place, and tracks how the movie went from being an opening-day dud to a staple of American childhood, as well as the inspiration for a Tim Burton–Johnny Depp remake and a popular Broadway musical. The issue includes tributes to star Gene Wilder and explains why he was the perfect Wonka, and shares what became of the movie's child stars. From Golden Tickets to Oompa Loompas to Everlasting Gobstoppers, LIFE captures everything that made Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory a work of pure imagination.

United States
Meredith Corporation
€ 13,46(Incl. btw)

in deze editie

5 min
how gene wilder made willy wonka an icon

BEFORE WE EVER SEE Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, we hear about his character’s legend. The reclusive candymaker Willy Wonka—a figure shrouded in mystery, whose immense wealth shields him from members of the public to whom he hasn’t granted a “golden ticket”—looms large in the imagination of each character in the film. There’s no telling what he might be like, and the characters, awaiting a rare Wonka appearance, are eager to find out. His entrance is all the more uncomfortable, then, as he slowly and grimly limps out of his factory. He seems pained, grievously unhappy. The scene stretches on as we see him dragging his right leg, slowly moving toward his fans, until, in a dreadful development, he falls forward—and at the last moment breaks into…

2 min
a journey behind the scenes

12 min
the dreamer of wonka’s dreamland

IN THE LATER YEARS OF HIS LIFE, when Roald Dahl had already cemented his legacy as one of the world’s preeminent authors of children’s fiction, he was often asked in interviews what was more challenging: writing for young readers or writing for adults. Invariably, his reply would take the querier by surprise. “To my mind, I don’t think there’s any question that to write a children’s book of comparable quality to a fine adult novel or story is more difficult,” Dahl said in a 1982 interview that aired on British television. “When you’re old enough and experienced enough to be an accomplished writer and you’re ready to write a book for children—because a young person can’t do it—by then you’ve become pompous, adult, grown-up. You’ve lost all your jokiness. Unless you…

8 min
wonka’s road to the screen

OF ALL THE FILMMAKERS who might have adapted one of Roald Dahl’s greatest children’s novels for the screen, producer David L. Wolper and director Mel Stuart were not the most obvious candidates. Throughout the 1960s, the pair had together produced a series of acclaimed historical documentaries. Their chronicle of the 1960 election that ushered in the Kennedy administration, The Making of the President, won four prime-time Emmy Awards; 1965’s Four Days in November, which offered a detailed account of the events surrounding Kennedy’s assassination, was nominated for an Oscar. But in addition to those serious works, Stuart had directed light comedies like If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969) and I Love My Wife (1970), and he was eager to build his feature résumé. Still, when Stuart’s 11-year-old daughter Madeline began…

6 min
finding the perfect wonka

THE LIST OF POTENTIAL stars featured some of the biggest names in Hollywood: Fred Astaire, Peter Sellers, Joel Grey, all six members of the English comedy troupe Monty Python. Everyone, it seemed, was intrigued by the idea of playing enchanting candyman Willy Wonka. Author Roald Dahl felt strongly that comic actor Spike Milligan, whose work had influenced Monty Python, was the perfect candidate; failing that, Sellers, who had famously worked with Milligan on the British radio comedy program The Goon Show. Both had gone to great lengths to win the part—Sellers personally phoned Dahl to lobby for his support; Milligan shaved off his beard for his audition to better match the description of Wonka in the novel. But once director Mel Stuart met with Gene Wilder, he knew immediately that he’d found…

4 min
“part of this world, part of another”

BY THE TIME HELEN COLVIG was asked to design the costumes for Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the Hollywood veteran already had dozens of credits to her name in TV and film. She had enjoyed a long-running professional relationship with Alfred Hitchcock that dated to 1960’s Psycho, and her designs had been featured in projects including the TV series McHale’s Navy and The Virginian. She’d even worked with filmmakers Mel Stuart and David L. Wolper and their producing partner Stan Margulies on the 1970 feature I Love My Wife, starring Elliott Gould and Brenda Vaccaro. Right away, the costume designer knew how she wanted to approach the fantastical adventure. “I had an idea that the look should be more storybook—the characters should look like they came from a little kid’s…