Who is Peter Ostrum?
Peter Gardner Ostrum was born on 1 November 1957, in Dallas, Texas, USA, and is a former actor turned veterinarian, best known for his work in the 1971 film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”. Despite being in only one film during his career, his role had a profound impact at the time.
The Net Worth of Peter Ostrum
As of early-2020, Peter Ostrum’s net worth is estimated to be over $500,000, earned through success in his various endeavors.
Peter Ostrum, 6065 Duncan Road, Glenfield, NY 13343-4021, USA
While he did earn significant income from his work in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”, his later career as a veterinarian is responsible for the majority of his wealth.
Early Life and Child Acting
While Peter was born in Dallas, the youngest of four siblings, his family later moved to Cleveland, Ohio where he would grow-up, and took his education in the area. At a young age, he showed an interest in the acting, performing in local theatre as a part of the Cleveland Play House. It was during this time that several talent agents took notice of him, and invited him to audition for “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”.
After recording a book reading and taking photos of him, the agents returned to New York and it wasn’t until two months later that he was contacted for a screen test there, and a month later he was informed that he was given the part. In 1970, he left the US to live briefly in Munich, then West Germany as it was the location for filming for the next five months. The entire filming felt like a student exchange program, as he was able to enjoy what most of Germany had to offer in the next five months.
Ostrum was able to witness the construction of the 1972 Summer Olympics Olympia Park.
He also worked with notable talents such as Jack Albertson and Gene Wilder, and was mentored by these more experienced actors, particularly Wilder whom he considered his parent during his time there. He had tutoring lessons and filmed most days, with his singing voice significantly cut in the final version of the film, which was released to a very strong positive response.
The film is based on the Roald Dahl novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, telling the story of the titular Charlie who visits a world-famous chocolate factory with other children after winning a Golden Ticket, given randomly through a chocolate bar.
The film attracted a bit of controversy due to the screenplay being altered heavily by David Seltzer against the author Dahl’s wishes, but earned over $1 million at the box office, and was successful even in its television release. The film received both Academy and Golden Globe nominations, losing out to “Fiddler on the Roof” which performed strongly in awards shows during the year.
The Chocolate Factory’s Effect
After filming, producer David L. Wolper offered Peter a three-film contract, which would essentially kick-start his career. However, he declined the offer as he felt that it limited the choice he had in what roles he would play.
He later left acting behind, and even though he missed it, he was glad he didn’t feel the pressures that child actors felt as they transitioned to more adult roles. During high school, he retained his interest and later auditioning several times, but unsuccessfully.
He was approached by interviewers and reporters but declined to comment on his past. He didn’t talk about the role for a long time, and even kept it from his future wife for a while. In the 1990s, he embraced the experience and began speaking about it more openly, especially to his alumni. Since then, he’s appeared in more events involving the film, leading up to the release of the next iteration “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in 2005. T
he new film saw a resurgence in interest in him, and it eventually led him to decline a lot of reporters due to the crowding.
During his teenage years, Ostrum’s parents bought him a horse, and his time with the animal left a strong impression, leading him to pursue veterinary studies later on, during which period he continued to raise and groom horses in Pennsylvania. He even considered stopping this path to return to acting once more, but ultimately decided to focus on veterinary medicine.
He studied at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, based in Ithaca, New York, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system.
In recent years he’s been based in New York, working as a veterinarian with the Dairy Health & Management Services, in which he also shares the title of managing partner, and also serves specifically in the Countryside Veterinary Clinic, focusing on cows and horses. One of his last video appearances was in the series “Veterinarians on Call”, which focused on the work of veterinarians working with large animals such as horses. The video series was funded by Pfizer, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the US.
While he has done a lot in this field, he has not left his love for the “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” behind, even appearing during a 40th-anniversary celebration in 2011.
Peter began dating Loretta M. Lepkowski in the 1980s, leading them to marry in 1987. The couple have two children together, and reside in Lowville, New York. One of his children also caught the acting bug, following his father’s youth and participating in numerous local musicals in which he has been credited as a leading actor. One of the biggest things that motivated Peter in his career decisions was seeing the same professionals enjoying their work, and learning more about what they did. His father was a lawyer but he didn’t know anything about the job when he was a child, so didn’t pursue a similar career.