Peter Gardner Ostrum (born November 1, 1957) is a former child actor whose only film role was Charlie Bucket in the 1971 motion picture Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
Ostrum was born in Dallas, Texas, U.S., but mainly raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland), and was a student at Malvern Elementary School when he was named to the role. After the film Ostrum was offered a three-picture contract, but turned it down; he retired from acting and graduated from North Hunterdon High School in Annandale, New Jersey.
Willy Wonka remains Ostrum's only film credit after he decided that the life of an actor was not for him; instead, he received a veterinary medical degree from Cornell University and is now a successful veterinarian who specializes in cattle and horses in Glenfield, New York.
Ostrum has appeared on the real version of Where Are They Now: Child Actors on VH1.
In February 2009, Ostrum partnered with Dunkin' Donuts to help promote their new alternate slogan "You 'Kin Do It!" in Boston; he helped give out "Charlie Cards" (named for the MBTA'S mascot Charlie) to commuters on Boston's commuter system. Ostrum gave a "Golden Ticket" to one lucky commuter, which gives them unlimited rides on the rail system in 2009 and a year of free Dunkin' Donuts coffee.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) was his only film appearance. He later went on to become a veterinarian.
Has two children, Helenka and Leif.
Was offered a three picture contract after Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), but turned it down.
Is a vet to large farm animals (cows and horses) in rural New York state.
Both Denise Nickerson and Julie Dawn Cole admit that they had crushes on him during the time they made Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) together.
Came in first place among males age 40-49 at the Lake Placid Half Marathon in 2001.
He is the youngest of four children by over a decade.
Although born in Dallas, he was raised largely in the Cleveland, Ohio, area, where he first acted in local children's theatre productions.
Attended North Hunterdon Regional High School in Annandale, New Jersey.
Lived in three different cities as a kid: Dallas, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; and Newark, New Jersey.
Lived in Munich, Germany for over half a year while filming Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).
Was number 78 on vh1's "100 Greatest Kid Stars" (2005).
When the picture was over, it was like it had never happened. I returned to school and by the time it was in theatres I'd changed a lot so I wasn't even recognised much. So, when I was, it was always a nice experience because people like 'Charlie'. He's a nice kid. My parents told me to look on it as an experience, which is what I did....My mom and dad were not at all stage parents. They made sure I had a clear choice about what I did for a living. I'm really grateful to them because being a veterinarian is very gratifying.
[On making Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)]: The entire experience was better than enjoyable. It was really interesting. But I had a chance to see what everyone's job entailed and I knew I didn't want to do any of those things for a living. Including being stars like Gene Wilder and Jack Albertson. When it was over I was anxious to become just another kid again.
[On how he almost returned to performing]: When I made Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), acting was something that interested me. It still does, but not as a profession. The only time I ever considered it again was when I heard they were holding auditions to replace Peter Firth in 'Equus' on Broadway. My thinking was that, perhaps I should at least present myself. Getting the part would have been like lightning striking twice, but I didn't get it. So I continued in school with the same majors - animal husbandry and veterinary medicine.
Do I regret turning down the movie offer? I don't think so. I love the job I am doing right now. Granted it is about as far away from Hollywood as you can get, but I have a feeling of self-satisfaction with it. I don't believe that I made the right choice or the wrong choice. I made a choice that fit what I wanted, and it shaped how life unfolded for me. Would have life been better if I took the movie offer? Maybe, but I'll never know, and it's something I'll never question.