Mel Stuart

Mel Stuart

As a young adult, director Mel Stuart initially had hopes of becoming a composer after graduating from New York University. He quickly changed his mind and gravitated towards film and found himself working as an assistant editor for commercials and an assistant to experimental filmmaker Mary Ellen Bute. Joining David L. Wolper Productions was a career altering step, and Stuart directed numerous television documentaries covering diverse topics, from film star Sophia Loren to global politics. Stuart earned an Academy Award nomination for "Four Days in November," a documentary uncovering the assassination of John F. Kennedy. His first major motion picture was directing the comedy "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium" in 1969 and in the following year, "I Love My Wife" starring Elliott Gould. Stuart found commercial success when he adapted Roald Dahl's whimsical childhood fantasy "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" into a family musical in 1971. He strayed away from big budget films and his next project was "Wattstax," a documentary unveiling the black experience in the midst of a music festival in Los Angeles. By the mid-1970s, Stuart got involved with television and even directed an episode of the sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter." He went back to his documentary roots and continued to direct and produce informative films for BBC and PBS beginning in the 1980s and into the the new century.