What the surviving stars of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory are doing today

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is the perfect hybrid of wonderful, magical, and strange, like an unforgettable fever dream. The 1971 film is filled with everything a child with an outrageous sweet tooth could possibly want — and everything from their deepest nightmares.

As many fans know, the classic movie centered on a candy factory's last-ditch effort to boost its notoriety by hosting a contest in which four children from around the world found a golden ticket in the company's famous chocolate bars. The children were invited to tour the inside of the mysterious factory, owned by the oddly charismatic Willy Wonka, played by Gene Wilder.

The movie is still influential to this day, and there was even a 2005 remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which is just as perplexing as its predecessor). In fact, the Library of Congress inducted the original Factory into the U.S. National Film Registry for preservation in 2014, due to it being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Though the movie is almost half a century old, some of the actors are still alive and kicking today. Let's take a look to see what those famous faces are up to now.

Charlie Bucket left the movie industry after Willy Wonka

No one in Willy Wonka's cooky competition loved chocolate and magic more than Charlie Bucket. The little boy from the down-trodden family — with the controversially animated Grandpa Joe — who won the last golden ticket was played by Dr. Peter Gardner Ostrum. At 12 years old, Ostrum was just a budding child actor at the time of the film, but he decided to start and end his acting career with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

According to AVMA Journal, Dr. Ostrum was offered a three-picture deal after the film wrapped, but he turned it down. He said, "Everybody thinks that acting is such a glamorous profession, but it's a difficult profession." When he returned home from Germany (where the movie was filmed), he was fueled by another passion after he met a veterinarian for the first time at his family's horse stables.

"I can remember the veterinarian coming out and taking care of the horses, and it made a huge impression on me," he said. "My father was a lawyer, and I really didn't have a clue what he did all day. But I knew exactly what the veterinarian did. Someone making a living from something he enjoyed so much really sparked my interest."

Ostrum attended Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 1984. As of writing this article, he works at the Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Lowville, NY.

Veruca Salt still pays homage to her child actress days

Actress Julie Dawn Cole set the tone for the spoiled, bratty Veruca Salt. One of the winners of Willy Wonka's worldwide contest, Veruca Salt and her father (played by the late Roy Kinnear) were a classic rich kid/pushover parent combo that was a delight to watch. While her treacherous reign of the candy factory tour ended tragically (down the golden goose hole she went), her character is iconic and truly cannot be forgotten.

Cole went on to have a recurring role in the ITV sitcom And Mother Makes Three as well as a few other roles as a "bad girl" character — her specialty. She had a successful BBC TV sitcom career with nearly 50 acting credits, until 2013 when she began doing more sporadic roles over the years.

When she was done with acting, Cole trained as a psychotherapist and now works for a cancer charity. Even though Veruca is all grown up, she enjoys keeping her Willy Wonka days alive. The first line on her professional website reads: "This is me, the original Veruca Salt from the 1971 film 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.'"

Mike Teavee has had several different careers

Mike Teavee, played by Paris Themmen, was a bit younger and much rowdier than his other contest-winning peers. The 11-year-old cowboy-loving tween bounced around everyone else until he was "accidentally" trapped in a TV in the TV room of the factory and somehow stretched out to 10 feet tall (completely the Oompa Loompas' fault!).

After his charismatic role in Willy Wonka, Themmen had a brief career on Broadway as a teen in the late '60s and later became a theatre major at New York University. According to an archived version of his official website, he wanted to travel internationally following his graduation.

"I founded 'Access International,' a travel service sending backpackers standby on charter flights to Europe," he wrote. "During this time I visited 36 countries on 6 continents, (I'm up to 40 now!) everything from the Jungles of the Amazon to the Sahara Desert. You name it, I've been there."

His career path took multiple different paths, including real estate, film production, "a stint in Walt Disney Imagineering," retail, and more "entrepreneurial ventures." He honestly added, "As you can tell from my past, there is no telling what I may do next. (Direct?) In any case, I have lived a full and eminently satisfying life."

Themmen added a sentiment that all the living Willy Wonka actors can likely relate to: "There is life after art."