Lifestyle & Belief

Mel Stuart, 'Willy Wonka' director, dies at 83


Mel Stuart attends the 40th anniversary of 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory' at Jacques Torres Chocolates on October 18, 2011 in New York City.


Cindy Ord

Mel Stuart, the director of "Willy Wonker & the Chocolate Factory," has died from cancer. He was 83.

Stuart, who made more than 180 films during his career, passed away on Thursday night in his Beverly Hills home, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The director’s documentaries were highly acclaimed. He won an Emmy for “The Making of the President 1960” while “Four Days in November,” about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, was nominated for an Oscar.

But it is his adaption of the Roald Dahl children’s classic “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” for which he will be most remembered.

Stuart created the 1971 musical fantasy, starring Gene Wilder, after his 11-year-old daughter Madeline asked him to make a movie about the much-loved book, the BBC reported.

Julie Dawn Cole, who played Veruca Salt in the movie, told the BBC that Stuart had wanted to create a film for adults that children would enjoy.

"He created an amazing film that has lasted and endured against all odds as it wasn't popular at the time," Cole said.

Born in New York, Stuart originally wanted to be a composer.

After attending New York University, he changed course and took up a career in filmmaking, the Associated Press reported.

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