The Kids of ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’ Then and Now
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In ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory,’ the film adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl children’s novel ‘Charlie & The Chocolate Factory,’ five kids win a “Golden Ticket” that allows them to tour Willy Wonka’s wondrous chocolate factory.
The five young actors who played the Golden Ticket winners each turned in memorable performances as the proverbial kids in the candy store. None of the actors were particularly well-known when the film came out in 1971, and for most of them ‘Charlie & Chocolate Factory’ represents the pinnacle of their acting career. See what each Golden Ticket winner is up to these days.
Peter Ostrum, Charlie Bucket
Then: Peter Ostrum was in sixth grade when he was plucked from the Cleveland Play House Children’s Theatre and cast as Golden Ticket winner and eventual chocolate factory owner Charlie Bucket in ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.’ It was Ostrum’s first and only film appearance.
Now: Despite being offered a three-picture deal on the strength of his performance as Bucket, Ostrum quit acting by the end of high school and went on to get a veterinarian degree from Cornell University. These days he runs a veterinarian practice in Lowville, New York. He made a return to the entertainment industry of sorts in 2011 when he appeared with some of his ‘Willy Wonka’ costars on a chocolate factory-themed episode of ‘Top Chefs: Just Desserts.’
Julie Dawn Cole, Veruca Salt
Then: In ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’ Julie Dawn Cole played bratty Golden Ticket winner Veruca Salt. While Salt pays for her spoiled ways by falling down a garbage shoot, the movie helped launched a successful acting career for Cole, who is from England.
Now: Cole has appeared on several British television series — such as ’Angels’ and ’Emmerdale’ — for the better part of the past four decades. (She also appeared as a fictionalized version of herself in the stage show ‘Willy Wonka Revisited: The Veruca Salt Sessions.’) Cole has two children and reports that whenever her daughter Holly would do anything bratty as a child Cole would compare her to Veruca Salt, which apparently made her behave herself.
Denise Nickerson, Violet Beauregard
Then: Denise Nickerson was already an acting veteran when she portrayed gum-chomping, ultra-competitive Golden Ticket winner Violet Beauregarde. The 13-year old had been a regular on the campy daytime soap opera ‘Dark Shadows’ and had also appeared on an episode of ‘Flipper.’
Now: Nickerson left acting in 1978, and currently lives in Denver where she works as an accountant at an engineer plant. She is still friendly with her costars from both ‘Willy Wonka’ and ‘Dark Shadows’ and enjoys appearing with them at conventions.
Paris Themmen, Mike Tee Vee
Then: Paris Themmen played Mike Tee Vee, who appropriately loved watching television. For his slothfulness, he is eventually shrunk down to only a few inches tall.
Now: Themman has had a few very minor actor roles since making his debut in ‘Willy Wonka’ — most notably a 2000 episode of ‘Star Trek: Voyager.’ The 52-year old lives in Los Angeles and makes his living in commercial casting.
Michael Bollner, Augustus Gloop
Then: Michael Bollner made his film debut in ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory,’ playing the gluttonous German Golden Ticket winner Augustus Gloop. Bollner, who was from Germany, didn’t know any English and had to be coached on his lines throughout the shooting.
Now: Although Bollner wanted to continue acting, his father insisted he finish his education and ‘Willy Wonka’ stands as his only film. Seemingly normal-sized — if a bit portly — as Gloop, Bollner grew to be a massive 6’7 and these days the 64-year-old runs a successful accounting business in Germany.