Charlie in 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' was originally black
Roald Dahl’s widow dishes on what happened.
The 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory tells the story of an underprivileged child named Charlie Bucket who wins a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The film ends with Charlie passing Willy Wonka’s wild series of tests and inheriting the lavish chocolate factory, taking his family out of poverty.
What many do not know is that the young Charlie Bucket was originally supposed to be a black. According to Roald Dahl’s widow, Dahl’s agent shot down the idea of a black Charlie.
Liccy Dahl told BBC Radio that her her husband originally wrote about a “little black boy” in his 1964 children’s book.
“His first Charlie that he wrote about, you know, was a little black boy,” she said. “I’m sure that was influenced by America.”
“It was his agent who said it was a bad idea when the book was first published to have a black hero,” Donald Sturrock, Dahl’s biographer said. “She said people would ask why.”