Diana Sowle, Charlie's mum in Willy Wonka, dies aged 88
Diana Sowle, the actress best known for playing Mrs. Bucket in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, has died aged 88.
Sowle passed away on Friday, her agent confirmed in a statement released to press.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce the loss of beloved friend, family member and actress Diana Sowle at the age of 88.
“Diana passed away in the early morning hours of Friday, October 19, with family by her side. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and friend, and will be dearly missed.”
The Californian actress made her film debut in the 1971 Roald Dahl adaptation playing Hellen Bucket, the mother of the Golden Ticket-winning Charlie, where she sang ‘Cheer Up Charlie’, although the song was later dubbed by Diana Lee.
According to her IMDB page, she also featured in 1994’s Clear and Present Danger and Guarding Tess, and she voiced a character in 2008’s Fallout 3, a dystopian RPG video game.
The statement from her agent added that for 23 years Sowle ran a free tutoring programme for underprivileged children in Washington DC, where she lived.
In 2010, Sowle revealed how she landed the role of Mrs. Bucket.
“Well I basically auditioned for it. My husband and I were living in Germany at the time. My husband worked for the government,” she told Media Mikes. “I have been producing plays and we toured in what were known as the America houses. They are like cultural centres. They were just finding out who was around in Germany. One day, I got a call-in to audition for it and that was it.”
She added that poor critical notices for the film, which also starred Gene Wilder in the title role, didn’t help her career, and that the film only began to gain a cult following when it started to show on television.
“The film was finished in 1970. We gave back to the States in 1971 and that is actually when I first saw the movie. I saw it at a local theatre,” she shared. “It didn’t really get good reviews was it was released. Back then, I thought too bad this would have been a nice opportunity. I sort of closed the window on it at that point. I thought ‘Oh well, you do things and they don’t always turn out’. Then we went back to Germany in 1975 until 1980. When we came back to the States, I think that is when they started showing the movie on the TV. I think when that happened there was suddenly much more interest in it.”
Diana Sowle 1930-2018.