'Willy Wonka' Star Diana Sowle Dies at 88

Actress Diana Sowle, best known for her role as Mrs. Bucket in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, died on Friday, her representative said. She was 88.

diana-sowle-getty-Bobby Bank : Contributor
(Photo: Bobby Bank / Contributor, Getty)

"She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and friend, and will be dearly missed," Sowle's representative said in a statement to BBC News, adding that she passed "with family by her side."

The 1971 Willy Wonka film, in which Sowle memorably sang, "Cheer Up Charlie," was an adaptation of the Road Dahl children's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was also the name of the 2005 adaptation starring Johnny Depp.

"It's nice that it's still so popular, and the reason I think it's so popular is — if you're a parent, you can send your child to that movie, there's no violence, there's no bad language and no sex," she told the Baltimore Sun in 2015 of Willy Wonka. "And kids love the thought of going to a chocolate factory and someone wins the golden ticket and they have all these bad kids and good kids, and the bad kids lose out because they try to grab (everything) for themselves."

She told the newspaper that Charlie should have taken his mother instead of his grandfather to the chocolate factory.

"Charlie should've taken his mom," she told the newspaper. "He should've said, 'Oh, that's wonderful. Now I can buy my mother a beautiful dress!' Never happened."

Sowle was one of the last living cast members of Willy Wonka, following the death of Gene Wilder, who played Willy Wonka himself and died in 2016 from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

"We'd be working on a scene and having a lunch break and he would be coming in to film another scene, and he would join us on a lunch break and we'd have lunch," Sowle once said of Wilder after his death. "He was so nice, he never acted like 'Oh I'm a bigger star than the rest of you,' he was always friendly and courteous and funny and told nice stories."

Sowle appeared in just two other films: Clear and Present Danger and Guarding Tess, both released in 1994. She also voiced Agatha in the 2008 video game, Fallout 3.

She frequently performed in the long-running murder mystery play Shear Madness as socialite Eleanor Schubert. Her co-star, Rick Hammerly, paid tribute to Sowle via Twitter.

0comments

"RIP DIANA SOWLE," he wrote. "You were a dear friend, the nicest Mrs. Schubert ever, & the woman who showed up 24 hours late to my Xmas party in 1995 to drop off a Christmas ornament. It has been on my tree every Xmas since. This year will be no exception. Love you, sweet lady." He added the hashtag #riplovelylady.