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Wockenfuss Remembers Gene Wilder

Dr. Leeds Jack Katzen (1)

Gene Wilder, star of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, passed on August 29th.

Willy Wonka: Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.

Mrs. Teevee: That’s 105 percent!

“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” begins in fantastical suspense. The murmur of a private factory and the prospect of a chance to see inside entices our young hero, Charlie, as he rips open the wrapper of a chocolate bar, revealing the last Golden Ticket. He runs to his house, waylaid by the infamous Slugworth, and Grandpa Joe dances as if he were a young man.

Gene Wilder, who passed on August 29 at the age of 83, was already well known prior to playing Willy Wonka, but the role pushed him into superstardom. With his bright blue eyes and whimsical voice, Wilder depicted the role of Willy Wonka as a mysterious and questionably unstable mogul in the candy business.

Wilder’s rule for comedy was simple: Don’t try to make it funny; try to make it real. “I’m an actor, not a clown,” he said more than once. Gene Wilder was born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on June 11, 1933, and knew from the start that he wanted to make people happy. His dreams led him to New York, Broadway, and eventually the silver screen. He was  introduced to Mel Brooks, and Wilder established himself as an actor of the absurd, the humorous, and even the neurotic.

What You May Not Know

Wilder was not the film’s first choice of actor for Willy Wonka; Roald Dahl, the author of the children’s book, expressed a preference for casting Pete Sellers in the role. According to Mel Stuart’s book about the making of the film, when Gene Wilder walked into the audition, Stuart knew before he’d uttered a single word that he had found his Willy Wonka. When his audition was finished, Stuart chased him down, cut him off at the elevator, and urged him to take the role. Wilder graciously accepted.

The film was a box-office disappointment, partly because of the parental concern that the moral of Dahl’s story, that greedy children should be punished, was too dark for an appropriate film.

The Legacy

Audiences fearful of in inappropriate moral could not be more wrong. The film shocked and charmed audiences with its whimsical, dream-like production. Wonka, an ambiguous character throughout the film, shows us that humanity is kind and people are really good at heart as he leads Charlie up in the glass elevator and over the town.

He isn’t just an eccentric old man who lives with his orange, small-statured employees. Rather, Willy Wonka is an inventor with an unwavering care for his craft. When Gene Wilder sings, “Come with me and we’ll be in a world of pure imagination” to a group of candy-craving children, the rest of the world can’t help but follow.

Enjoy “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” with Wockenfuss Candies

Since 1915, Wockenfuss has been a family owned and operated business creating the finest confections in Baltimore, Maryland. With our nine convenient locations throughout Maryland, there is sure to be a Wockenfuss store near you. Come visit us to see our selection of summer favorites such as chocolate seashells and saltwater taffy. We’ll be happy to help you select the perfect sweet treat, whether for you or as a gift for a loved one.

If you have any questions about our sweet seasonal candies, please contact Wockenfuss Candies by calling us at 1-800-296-4414 or emailing When you’re not savoring our sweets, stay satisfied by following us on FacebookTwitter, Google+, and Pinterest too!

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 1st, 2016 at 6:20 pm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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