Duran Duran and Willy Wonka: I’m Retro!

The 40th Anniversary Edition of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

You know you’re old when your childhood faves are now retro cool.

This was brought home to me the past few weeks by two very different events: meeting and interviewing the original cast and director of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, in honor of their 40th anniversary (yikes) and the release of the Ultimate 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition, and going to see Duran Duran – the seminal band of my High School years, on their All You Need is Now tour at Madison Square Garden.

First off, the cast of Willy Wonka is all but unrecognizable, except for Mike TV (Paris Themmen) which is weird, since he has, in the FORTY years (!) since the movie was released, lost most of his hair.  And yet, he looks the same. I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s more the personality: he’s the same know-it-all personality as his now 40 + year old movie alter ego. (And might I mention that Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie Bucket, is also the same lovely, kind personality as his movie persona. Good casting.)

Duran Duran, however, especially Simon le Bon, dashing in his sparkly pants, looks unchanged.  More importantly, they sound unchanged.  Another thing I can’t explain.  Rock stars seem never the age.  Even Methusala, I’m sorry, I mean Mick Jagger, while he looks old, seems somehow ageless.  He’s looked old for decades.  The band played all the old hits, a few covers, a few new ones I didn’t know, and over all, rocked the house. And not just “for guys their age.” They rocked. Plain and simple. (Though while it’s a good thing their music still sounds the same as it did 30 years ago, they might want to bring their production values into the 21st centure. A flashing snowflake light? Really?)

What strikes me about both the band and the movie is how popular they still are today.  The movie is a classic.  Tim Burton’s try at a re-make just didn’t have the same cult appeal.  The fact that my kids love Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as much as I do makes me happy.  It makes me feel less old.

The fact that a bunch of  20 something year old girls were rocking out to Duran Duran…well, that made me feel quite old.  Because they don’t like Duran Duran because they are the hottest new band of the moment.  They don’t know the words because they are simply a part of life.  They like the band ironically.  It’s retro.

And I, am old.

Still, there was something undeniably sexy about Simon, and something incredibly thrilling about meeting the original cast of a movie I loved…and still love.

So as long as I don’t start wearing off the shoulder sweatshirts or shoulder pads, I guess having your childhood high points become retro hot point ain’t so bad.

If you’re interested in going to see the Duran Duran reunion tour – which was awesome – check out their tour schedule.

If you, too, want to reminisce about a childhood movie, Check out my interviews with the Willy Wonka Cast:


  1. says

    I am so jealous of your life in the last two weeks. Not only do I (still) have a raging crush on Gene Wilder, I was IN LOVE with Simon LeBon from 1984-1987. I can’t tell you how many times I watched “Hungry Like the Wolf” and cried for his pain.

    They are both popular because 1) quality lasts. 2) they are both filled with charismatic characters.

    You have to promise that if you score an interview with DD that I can come and be your water girl or shoe polisher or large, leafy fan waver. Oh to breathe the same air!

    • says

      Would you peel me a grape? Because, seriously, that might do it. But, alas, I think interviewing an oompa loompa is about as close as I’m getting to Simon. And that makes no sense whatsoever….but I”m OK with that?

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