Mel Stuart, Director Of 'Willy Wonka,' Dead At 83

8:48 AM, Aug 10, 2012   |    comments
Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka signature costume from the film 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' on display at Profiles In History in Calabasas, northwest of downtown Los Angeles, on July 19, 2012 (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GettyImages)
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NEW YORK (AP) - Mel Stuart's family says the award-winning documentary filmmaker who also directed "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" has died.

His daughter, Madeline Stuart, said he died Thursday night of cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He was 83.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Stuart and David L. Wolper established a base of West Coast documentary production at a time when New York filmmakers and TV network news dominated the field.

Stuart's dozens of documentary films include three editions of "The Making of the President" and, for PBS' "American Masters," portraits of the artist Man Ray and the director Billy Wilder. Stuart's groundbreaking film "Wattstax" focused on the 1972 music festival and Los Angeles' largely black Watts community in the wake of the 1965 riots.

In 2005, PBS aired "The Hobart Shakespeareans," Stuart's profile of a teacher in inner-city Los Angeles whose fifth-grade class each year performed a play by William Shakespeare.

Stuart made "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," a children's classic starring Gene Wilder, in 1971. His other features include the 1969 comedy, "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium."

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