Trending | News | Celebrity

'Willy Wonka' Actress Diana Sowle Passes Away At 88

Getty Images

Diana Sowle, best known for portraying Charlie Bucket's mother and her memorable performance of "Cheer Up Charlie" in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, reportedly passed away at the age of 88.

A representative for the actress confirmed the sad news in a statement to the BBC. The statement didn't provide a cause of death, but it revealed that Sowle died "with family by her side."

"She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and friend, and will be deadly missed," read the statement.

Diana Swole in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Diana Sowle as Mrs. Bucket in 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' (1971). The actress passed away at the age of 88 on October 19. Paramount/Comic Book

The role of Mrs. Bucket earned Sowle her first-ever screen credit, and she only appeared in two more films, Guarding Tess and Clear and Present Danger, both of which were released in 1994, decades after her big screen debut.

Sowle, a California native, was also a stage actress who performed in the long-running murder mystery play Shear Madness as well as in a 2012 production of Love Letters in Virginia. She also lent her voice to the popular video game Fallout 3, which was released in 2008.

Like many of the actors from the iconic film, Sowle left Hollywood decades ago. She lived in Washington D.C with her late husband, where he worked with the CIA and she ran a free tutoring program for underprivileged kids for 23 years.

Diana Sowle and Peter Ostrum
Diana Sowle poses with Peter Ostrum, who played her on-screen son Charlie Bucket.Getty Images

Sowle was one of the last surviving adult cast members since Gene Wilder, who played the title character, passed away in 2016 from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

In an interview after Wilder's death, Sowle discussed what it was like having him as a costar.

"We'd be working on a scene and having a lunch break and he would be coming in to film another scene, and he would join us on a lunch break and we'd have lunch," she recalled.

"He was so nice, he never acted like, 'Oh I'm a bigger star than the rest of you', he was always friendly and courteous and funny and told nice stories."

Gene Wilder
Gene Wilder, who portrayed Willy Wonka in the 1971 film, passed away in 2016 at the age of 83.Wikimedia Commons/Caroline Bonarde Ucci

Sowle's friends and colleagues, including her Shear Madness costar Rick Hammerly, took to social media to pay tribute to the actress.

"RIP DIANA SOWLE. You were a dear friend, the nicest Mrs. Schubert ever & the woman who showed up 24 hours late to my Xmas party in 1995 to drop off a Christmas ornament," Hammerly tweeted. "It has been on my tree every Xmas since. This year will be no exception. Love you, sweet lady."

Sowle is survived by her two children and grandchildren.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.

Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.