32 Pieces of Movie Trivia: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Edition

In honor of the film's 45th anniversary (June 30, 1971), here are some quick facts about it. (And as always, all previous trivia lists I've done can be found here: Every Trivia List I've Done So Far)
  1. Director Mel Stuart decided to turn Roald Dahl's classic into a feature film after his daughter suggested he make a movie out of the book with "Uncle David" (David L. Wopler) producing.
    Stuart paid her $50 for the suggestion.
  2. Wopler convinced Quaker Oats to buy the film rights ($200,000) and help finance the film ($3 million) as a way to promote their new chocolate bars.
    While the promotion worked, the problem was that the chocolate bars melted so easily that they actually melted just sitting in the boxes on store shelves. Because of this, they were pulled from the market and Quaker Oats eventually sold their subsidiary company, Breaker Confections to Sunline, Inc. (Sunline, Inc. would later become Nestlé.)
  3. Although the film lists only Roald Dahl as its screenwriter in the credits, the script was actually written by David Seltzer.
    Seltzer would go on to write the screenplays for 1976's The Omen and 1986's Lucas.
  4. Dahl was so displeased with Seltzer's rewrite, though, that he refused to allow the movie to be remade or to sell the rights to its sequel, Charlie and the Glass Elevator, during his lifetime.
    The reason for his displeasure? He felt the film focused too much on Wonka and had been sweetened up to cover up the story's dark tones.
  5. Producers' first choice for the role of Willy Wonka was Joel Grey, but he was eventually rejected because he didn't tower over the child actors enough.
    Others considered included John Pertwee, Spike Mulligan (Dahl's first choice), Ron Moody, and all six members of Monty Python. (Each of the MP members were rejected because producers didn't think they had enough international name recognition to carry the film.)
  6. Sammy Davis Jr. wanted to play the part of the candy shop owner who sings the film's opening song, but producers turned him down because they felt it might be too gimmicky.
    But despite this, Davis made the song, "The Candy Man" part of his act and scored his first and only number one hit of his career with it in 1972.
  7. Mel Stuart tried not to use too many cars in the film because he didn't want them to date it.
  8. The film was shot in Munich, Germany because a) it had a "storybook quality" to it and b) it was cheap.
    After filming wrapped in Munich, the Wonka cast and crew moved out so that the cast and crew of Cabaret could move in.
  9. Ernest Ziegler, who played Grandpa George in the film, was left nearly blind by a poisonous gas in World War I so a red light was used to help guide him any time his character was supposed to look in a certain direction.
  10. Gene Wilder's acting was so convincing during the boat ride scene that some of the actors thought he was actually going mad.
  11. Most of the chocolate bars in the film were actually made of wood.
  12. The "coat hangers" are the spray-painted hands of five of the carpenters who worked on the film.
  13. The formula used for the chocolate river had to be changed because the original concoction they came up with caused the river to turn blood red.
  14. Speaking of the chocolate river, it was made from a 150,000 gallon mixture of water, chocolate, and cream, which began to spoil and gave off a horrible smell by the end of filming.
  15. Jack Albertson (Grandpa Joe) worked with Roald Dahl's (then) wife, Patricia Neal on a film called The Subject Was Roses in 1968.
    He even won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role, defeating his future Willy Wonka costar Gene Wilder. (Wilder had been nominated for The Producers.)
  16. Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt) ended up badly cutting her left knee because she didn't know that the rock she was supposed to drop down onto and smash the chocolate egg against was real.
    If you look closely in the first scene with the egg, you can see that her left stocking is bloody.
  17. Out of the ten Oompa Loompas, only one was played by a female.
  18. Denise Nickerson (Violet) ended up with thirteen cavities at the end of filming because of all the gum she had to chew.
  19. Jean Stapleton was the producers' first choice for the role of Mrs. Teevee, but she declined it in favor of doing a television pilot.
    That pilot, by the way, turned out to be All in the Family.
  20. It took Gene Wilder two weeks of working with stunt actors to learn to do Wonka's flip.
  21. It took fifty takes to get the final Oompa-Loompa song.
  22. The scene where Charlie runs home after finding the golden ticket was the first scene to be filmed.
    On the opposite end, the last scene filmed for the movie was of the technician trying to impress the businessmen with the computer that was supposed to give the results of the three remaining tickets.
  23. Denise Nickerson (Violet) didn't want to do the nose picking scene because she had a crush on Peter Ostrum (Charlie).
  24. The cup that Wonka drinks from and then eats was made of wax.
    Wilder kept having to chew the wax until the director called cut. After that, he would spit it into a garbage pail.
  25. During the construction of Wonka's office, one of the prop men accidentally sawed a non-prop coffee pot that someone had set down in the work area in half.
    He didn't realize his mistake until coffee began to pour out.
  26. Both Denise Nickerson (Violet) and Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt) had crushes on Peter Ostrum (Charlie) and would alternate days of who got to spend time with him.
    They also had a crushes on one of the crew members' sons so if it wasn't their day with Ostrum, they hung out with him.
  27. Denise Nickerson turned purple while sitting in math class one day.
    Apparently the makeup that had been used on her for the blueberry scene had seeped into her pores and started to resurface.
  28. The film only earned $4 million at the box office and was considered a failure.
    In the late 70s, Paramount allowed their distribution rights to expire while Quaker Oats sold their stake in the film to Warner Brothers for $500,000. Warner Bros. then began licensing the film for TV broadcasts and released it on VHS which turned a *major* profit for the company and eventually allowed them to release the 2005 remake.
  29. Peter Ostrum (Charlie) turned down a three-five picture deal after filming wrapped because he didn't want to be an actor.
    He grew up and became a veterinarian instead.
  30. In fact, out of the five child actors only Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt) continued to act.
    She's worked primarily in British soap operas.
  31. Props and costumes from the film are quite rare because the film's cast and crew had no idea how successful it would become.
    However, Julie Dawn Cole did keep her golden ticket, an Everlasting Gobstopper, and a Willy Wonka candy wrapper.
  32. Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka costume sold for $74,000 in 2012.