When you were a kid watching 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, based on the Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you no doubt found yourself wishing you were there in that factory enjoying the sugar rush to end all sugar rushes those kids were experiencing.
That of course includes the famous scene in which Wonka points out that the wallpaper in one particular area is no ordinary wallpaper. This wallpaper, adorned with various fruits, actually tastes like those fruits if you lick it. If you feel like getting a little crafty, this wallpaper is one thing you no longer have to fantasize about. A video has been shared that shows you how to make it at home.
The world became a little less funny on August 29th when Gene Wilderpassed away at the age of 83. Wilder is most remembered for his work with Mel Brooks, first in The Producers (1967) as Leo Bloom, and then for his roles in 1974’s comedy double feature of Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. Sandwiched in the center of these Brooks’ classics was his spectacular turn as the titular character in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), directed by Mel Stuart and written by the author of the book, Roald Dahl.
Last weekend, in commemoration of Wilder’s passing, both films were back in select theaters, and my wife and I took my son to see them.
Gene Wilder, the actor best known for his headlining roles in such films as Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, Young Frankenstein, Stir Crazy, Blazing Saddles, and The Producers, died today at his at home in Stamford, CT, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, according to Variety. He had also been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1989.
Wilder was the star of many beloved classics and helped pave the way for “pure imagination” to many of today’s creative artists, whether they are directors, actors, or music performers.
Every year since 1989 the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry has selected twenty-five short films and full-length features to be recognized, in the words of the librarian of Congress James H. Billington, as “cultural, historical, or aesthetic cinematic treasures.” From Citizen Kane and Star Wars to Woodstock and This is Spinal Tap, each year’s list contains some of the most beloved and significant films ever made, and now the Dude and Ferris Bueller get to join their ranks.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1998 comic thriller The Big Lebowski, which has become a certified cult classic in the sixteen years since its theatrical, Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning World War II drama Saving Private Ryan, and John Hughes’ endlessly quotable high school comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off are among this year’s additions to the National Film Registry, bringing the total amount of films in the Registry to 650.
The great Gene Wilder hasn’t acted since 2003 when he was a guest star on the sitcom Will & Grace—a role that won him a Primetime Emmy. But from time to time the 80-year-old still makes appearances and sometimes does interviews, sharing stories of his life and work while continuing to inspiring many.
In 2007 Wilder spoke to Letty Cottin Pogrebin, and from that chat a short animated video was created that you can see below. In the video, Wilder talks about acting (and why he doesn’t do it anymore—though would, if the right role came along), his life and how his mother inspired him to get into acting and making people laugh, and his one change to the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory script he requested in order for him to take the job.
It’s a wonderful video, and a reminder of why we love and miss Wilder on the screens big and small. Much like Mel Brooks, who Wilder of course worked with many times, you could listen to him tell stories all day long.