Director Mel Stuart passed away Thursday night. He was 83.

Stuart is best known for his 1971 Roald Dahl adaptation, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," which starred Gene Wilder as the oddball chocolatier. Despite its poor return at the box office, the film went on to become a cult classic, inspiring a generation of kids and adults with its memorable songs and colorful visuals.

Before the movie was released in theaters, Wilder sent a now famous letter to Stuart regarding Wonka's costume: "I love the main thing -- the velvet jacket -- and I mean to show by my sketch the exact same color. But I've added two large pockets to take away from the svelt, feminine line ... The hat is terrific, but making it 2 inches shorter would make it more special."

In addition to "Wonka," Stuart also directed the groundbreaking music documentary "Wattstax," which followed the legendary Wattstax music festival in Los Angeles, held in the aftermath of the city's riot. In 1965 he was nominated for an Oscar for his film "Four Days in November."

Stuart is survived by sons Andrew and Peter, and his daughter, Madeline. He died of cancer at his home in Los Angeles.

[via NY Daily News]
categories Movies