C&THCF Tidbit #20: Meet the Real Willy Wonka

by Roald Dahl

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C&THCF Tidbit #20: Meet the Real Willy Wonka

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Feb 21, 2005 9:38 am

Here are two articles about the REAL Willy Wonka...

#1

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/ ... ory=551068

Roald Dahl and the real-life Willy Wonka

By Louise Jury

13 August 2004
Letters from a real-life Willy Wonka to Roald Dahl have been discovered by researchers preparing papers for exhibition in a new museum dedicated to the author. But whereas Dahl's fictional creation owned a chocolate factory, his non-fiction namesake was a postman in Blue Hill, Nebraska, the letters reveal.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first published 40 years ago and has since become a children's classic, selling 13.7 million copies. It is being filmed for a second time in a version directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp.

But when Dahl dreamt up the name of his eccentric factory owner, he had no idea a real one existed.

"I was astonished and excited to get your letter. I never would have believed there was anyone in the world with this name. In fact I thought I had invented it," Dahl told Will Wonka when the postman first made contact in 1971, just before the film version, starring Gene Wilder, was released.


Dahl forewarned Mr Wonka that the film was likely to receive a great deal of publicity.

"I hope this will in no way embarrass you. On the contrary I hope it will give you pleasure and make you famous."


The writer told how the inspiration for the name had come from a boomerang his elder brother had made for him when he was a boy which he called Skilly Wonka.

"By changing two letters I arrived at Willy Wonka. This is the absolute truth, although I have so far told it to no-one but you."


In their correspondence, Mr Wonka requests a plaque to put on his mail van and admits to suffering a degree of teasing over the name. He died in 2001 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, aged 81, having retired from the postal round on which he handed out chocolate bars to children who loved his name.


His letters are among thousands of papers which Dahl filed away with meticulous care. They will be part of the display when it opens in March next year at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, the Buckinghamshire village where the author and his family lived from 1960.


Other papers discovered include correspondence with the head of the US Chewing Gum Manufacturing Company in California, which Roald Dahl had read about it in The Wall Street Journal. Dahl wrote that if only he lived nearer, he would apply for the job of head of the inventing department.


"You should, I think, have a door in your factory, heavily chained and barred, covered with alarm bells, etc, labelled Inventing Room," he told company head Alan Silverstone.

"There need be nothing in the room except a tape and a speaker which you switch on when a party of visitors is approaching. The noises that came out could be terrific. So could the voices of the inventors, 'Try this'. 'I think I've got it'. 'No, not quite, the green isn't green enough'. And it doesn't light up in the mouth'. You could go on for ever. Imagine the kids crouching outside your secret door, listening."


Mr Silverstone immediately awarded Dahl the unpaid advisory position he requested, with an "annual unpayment" of purple poppers, orange chews and non-melting ice cones.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was the most successful book by Dahl, who died in 1990 at the age of 74.


A special edition of the novel is being published by Puffin to mark its 40th birthday and a competition has been launched, emulating the hunt for golden tickets that give the children in the book entrance to the chocolate factory. Five golden tickets have been hidden in Roald Dahl books in Waterstone's bookshops and the children who find them will win a special Roald Dahl Day in October.


The prize will include visiting the London studio of Dahl's principal illustrator, Quentin Blake, and a visit to Dahl's home, Gypsy House, with the writer's widow, Felicity.


There, they will see his writing hut and get a sneak preview of the museum which will tell Dahl's life story and house the archive of his papers.



#2

The real Willy Wonk
Michael Kelly: Wonka in Nebraska had sweet life as well

BY MICHAEL KELLY

WORLD-HERALD COLUMNIST
From the notebook:

• A museum in England will tell the tale of the real Willy Wonka - who lived in Nebraska.

The Independent, a London newspaper, this week disclosed an exchange of letters between Roald Dahl, who wrote of the fictional Willy Wonka 40 years ago, and Willy Wonka, the postman from Blue Hill, Neb.

Dahl, who died in 1990, first heard from the real Willy in 1971, just before release of the film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

In a reply to Willy the postman, the author explained that as a child, he had a boomerang called "Skilly Wonka," which he said was the inspiration for the name Willy Wonka. He said he hoped it caused the Nebraskan no embarrassment.

Willard John Wonka was born in Weston, Neb., and was a B-17 gunner in World War II. "Willy Wonka" was painted on his plane.

He served as a mail carrier from 1960 to 1982 in Blue Hill, 20 miles south of Hastings. A candy company sent him cases of chocolate bars, which he handed out to children on his route - as a real "candy man" can.

He later moved to Albuquerque, N.M., where he died in 2001.

A new movie about the fictional Willy Wonka is being filmed, starring Johnny Depp. The Roald Dahl Museum will open in March.

(The Omaha World-Herald)


(DITHOT Note: Article #1 was originally posted on the old Zone and I apologize for not remembering who found it!)
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Unread postby Calliope » Mon Feb 21, 2005 10:46 am

What fun tidbits! Thanks, DeppintheheartofTexas! My kids will be interested in knowing that a "real" Willy Wonka actually existed! What a coinkydink! Fabulous find! :-O

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Unread postby Judyb » Mon Feb 21, 2005 10:57 am

This is really interesting. I did not know that there was a real "Willy Wonka."

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Unread postby lumineuse » Mon Feb 21, 2005 11:01 am

Oh my gosh, DITHOT! You're amazing (you, too, Liz!). I can't imagine where you guys find this fun stuff!
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Unread postby fansmom » Mon Feb 21, 2005 1:51 pm

So of course, I had to go to an online yellow pages to see if there were any living Willy Wonkas, and this was as close as I could get. I'd go by Bill if I were him--

Wonka, William
6633 E Greenway Pkwy
Scottsdale, AZ
(480) 361-4560

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Feb 21, 2005 2:56 pm

fansom wrote: So of course, I had to go to an online yellow pages to see if there were any living Willy Wonkas, and this was as close as I could get. I'd go by Bill if I were him--


:rotflmao: Can you imagine the prank calls! Oh my! :yikes:


lumineuse wrote: Oh my gosh, DITHOT! You're amazing (you, too, Liz!). I can't imagine where you guys find this fun stuff!


It's our crack ONBC research department, lumineuse...or is that our cracked research department??? :mort3: :-O
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Unread postby es » Mon Feb 21, 2005 5:38 pm

thats really funny,wonder if he has seen the movie,that must have been a strange experience,
greetings,
es

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Unread postby lizbet » Tue Feb 22, 2005 12:19 am

DITHOT and Liz - you two are absolutely amazing - is there anything you can't find ?!?!?

it seems the real Mr. Wonka had a sense of humour and didn't mind any attention the original movie brought :lol:
trying to live in "a profound state of ignorance"

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Feb 22, 2005 11:02 am

lizbet wrote: DITHOT and Liz - you two are absolutely amazing - is there anything you can't find ?!?!?


Thanks for the compliment, lizbet. :blush: Yes, there are some things we think of but can't find. It sure is fun when we do find something we are looking for, eh Liz? :highfive:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Liz » Tue Feb 22, 2005 8:01 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
lizbet wrote: DITHOT and Liz - you two are absolutely amazing - is there anything you can't find ?!?!?


Thanks for the compliment, lizbet. :blush: Yes, there are some things we think of but can't find. It sure is fun when we do find something we are looking for, eh Liz? :highfive:


Right you are, DITHOT. :bounce: Thanks for your vote of confidence, Lizbet.
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Unread postby nebraska » Fri Feb 25, 2005 10:24 pm

As you might guess, I found this tid bit delightful. the Omaha World Herald is "my" newspaper and I actually know where Weston Nebraska is, having known folks from there in my younger days.


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