David Wolper, producer of ‘Roots,’ has died
In it, he reminisced about the 1971 “Willy Wonka.” He said it was his only work specifically for children, though he “always hoped kids would learn from and enjoy my documentaries.”
For the title role, he said Gene Wilder was perfect casting for a character with “a magical quality about him, the joy of a child in a man’s body. … The role fit him tighter than one of Cousteau’s wet suits.”
Wolper’s producer roots go back to the 1950s, when he turned footage of the Soviet space program _ which he bought out from under the TV networks’ noses _ into “The Race for Space.” The film was a hit in syndication and an Oscar nominee.
Before that, he first entered the entertainment industry by selling old movies to TV stations.
He said he welcomed the relative anonymity that came from staying behind the scenes.
“I make the money and I don’t have to take the abuse some of the stars do, opening up their personal life. I can go into a restaurant, sit down and have a nice meal without being harassed.
“Arnold Schwarzenegger can’t do that,” he said.