Willy Wonka Director Mel Stuart Dies at 83


Mel Stuart, the awarding-winning filmmaker, died of cancer Thursday night in his California home. Stuart is best known for directing the 1971 Gene Wilder classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Stuart was also an award-winning documentarian. 

Stuart's documentaries include in depth looks at the world of politics. He won an Emmy award for his documentary The Making of the President 1960; his susequent documentaries followed the 1964 and 1968 campaigns. His 1973 film Wattstax was a ground breaking look at the Wattstax music festival, and the Watts community in Los Angeles in the period after the area's 1965 riots. Stuart is also known for the 1969 comedy-romance If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium. 

Arguably his most famous film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was Stuart's adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl novel. Stuart's daughter, Madeline, was 11-years-old at the time and encouraged her father to make a movie based off of her favorite book. The film became a family classic. 

In his later years, Stuart continued to pursue his passion for documentaries, and by 1980 was an independent producer and director. His credits include portraits featured on PBS' American Masters. Stuart was also the executive producer of the 1980s series Ripley's Believe It or Not. 

Stuart was born in New York City in 1928. He is survived by his three children Madeline, Andrew, and Peter.