Now, the heir to the chocolate factory, Charlie Buckett, played by Dr. Peter Ostrum, is commenting on the loss of the Hollywood legend.
"Gene’s wit and humor spoke to many generations of film audiences," Ostrum said in a comment to ABC News. "He was a unique talent that brought joy to all of us that followed his long career."
"Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" was Ostrum's only film credit. He is now a veterinarian in northern New York.
"As a young actor filming 'Willy Wonka,' I had the rare privilege of working with Gene who I greatly admired," he continued. "He became my mentor and personal friend. For that I will always be grateful. So shines a good deed in a weary world."