The Oompa Loompas Were African Slaves In The 1964 Book

Left: Gene Wilder and Oompa Loompas from the 1971 film 'Wily Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.' Right: An illustration of the Oompa Loompas from the first edition of Roald Dahl's book 'Charlie And The Chocolate Factory,' 1964. Sources: IMDB; processhistory

The Oompa Loompas are the short factory workers in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which starred Gene Wilder and was based on a book by Roald Dahl. Wonka was known as a mysterious, reclusive and eccentric candy maker who owned a factory that produced chocolate and other confections, and his Oompa Loompas were odd little creatures who sang songs and danced. While the 1971 Oompa Loompas, with their orange skin, green hair and green-and-white factory costumes, bring back fond memories for those of us who recall the film, Dahl's original concept for the imported laborers wasn't ready for the big screen, or any screen at all.