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Willy Wonka is the Man—The Candyman

Actor/Writer Gene WIlder

Brilliant comic actor and writer (and fine singer and dancer too!) Gene Wilder, AKA WIlly Wonka, AKA The Candyman, passed away August 29th 2016 at his home in Connecticut from complications surrounding his long (and largely unknown) diagnosis with Alzhiemer’s disease. He was 83 years old.

Willy Wonka is the Man—The Candyman

Gene WIlder as WIlly WonkaAs children’s movies go, it just doesn’t get any better than Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring the sensational comic actor, Gene Wilder. (The first version of Willy Wonka. A second version starring Johnny Depp was released in 2005, directed by Tim Burton. Both adaptations were based on the 1964 novel by Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.)

Released in 1971, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was not an immediate box-office hit but much like other “children’s films” that have ultimately found a large and perrenial post-release audience — children and adults — including The Wizard of Oz, the film has become a classic.

It is Gene Wilder’s deft use of subtle adult humor that attracts and entertains adults. (When he raises his eyebrows or rolls his eyes, the adults know just what he’s thinking!) It is the story, the kids, the fantasy, the “oompa loompas” and no doubt THE CANDY, that mesmerizes children.

The song most identified with WW&TCF is “Candyman.” “Candyman” was written by veteran British-born film and stage composer Leslie Bricusse (Stop the World – I Want to Get Off, Dr. Doolittle) and fellow British actor, singer and composer, Anthony Newley.

Aside from being the perfect song for Willy Wonka, “Candyman” was an unlikely hit for Sammy Davis Jr., spending three weeks as #1 on the pop charts in 1972.

Initially, Sammy Davis Jr. was reluctant to record “Candyman,” saying it was too cute. (Remember, Sammy was part of the infamous “Rat Pack” with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford — children’s songs weren’t exactly the forte of that hard-drinking, wild-living camp!)

But record it he did, and not only was it a huge hit on both the pop and adult contemporary (AC) charts, over the years it became Sammy’s signature song.

SIDEBAR: Danny Elfman of 80’s artsy rock group Oingo Boingo fame composed the music for Tim Burton’s stab at Willy Wonka. Elfman also wrote the Pee Wee Herman Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure music (his first orchestral score), The Simpsons Theme, and music for many other hit shows and films. His style and arrangements are unmistakable.

Candyman Lyrics
(Words and Music by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley)

Who can take a sunrise,
Sprinkle it with dew?
Cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two
The Candyman, the Candyman can,
The Candyman can ’cause he mixes it with love
and makes the world taste good

Who can take a rainbow,
Wrap it in a sigh?
Soak it in the sun and make the stra’bry lemon pie
The Candyman? The Candyman can
The Candyman can ’cause he mixes it with love
and makes the world taste good

The Candyman makes
everything he bakes
Satisfying and delicious
Talk about your childhood wishes
You can even eat the dishes!

Who can take tomorrow,
Dip it in a dream?
Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream,
The Candyman? The Candyman can, the Candyman can
The Candyman can ’cause he mixes it with love
and makes the world taste good
And the world tastes good
’cause the Candyman thinks it should


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