Who is Willy Wonka child star Paris Themmen? Fans of Jeopardy! may have tried to put their finger on why a contestant on the Tuesday, March 13, episode looked so familiar, but the long-running game show certainly didn’t give them any hints as to why.
It turns out that 58-year-old Themmen, who was there to challenge returning champion Zach Dark along with McKayle Bruce, had played little cowboy and TV addict Mike Teevee in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory! But the trivia show never revealed this fun tidbit about its contestant. Themmen was introduced only as “an entrepreneur from North Hollywood, California.”
And when it came time for host Alex Trebek to chat with the contestants to learn more about them, the former child star never mentioned his time on the big screen. Instead, he opted to discuss his passion for backpacking.
“Sixty-one countries … on six continents, not yet Antarctica!” the entrepreneur revealed when Trebek, 77, inquired about his love of backpacking. “My favorite was Mount Everest Base Camp.”
But Themmen tells Us Weekly that it wasn’t his decision to not mention he was Mike Teevee on the show. “Alex had a card in his hand with three fun facts about me in it, including Willy Wonka. Because he is a travel enthusiast, he asked me about that,” he explains. “Personally, I was just happy to be there and was focusing on my game. I embrace the fact that I am associated with such a well-loved and iconic motion picture.”
The entrepreneur, who runs the website Wonka Pops, added that he still appears at comic book conventions. But above all, he tells Us, “I loved the entire Jeopardy! experience!”
Though the show never revealed Themmen’s claim to fame, the former actor did give his nearly 400 Twitter followers a heads up the day before. “I am appearing on tomorrow’s episode of Jeopardy! Tuesday, March 13th! Check your local listings for times. Excited!” he tweeted.
But Jeopardy! viewers did make the connection themselves. “Pretty darn proud that I recognized @ParisThemmen on @Jeopardy tonight before Alex even did the intros. You go, Mike Teevee!! #WillyWonka,” wrote one viewer.
And many were super excited when they realized little Mike Teevee was on their screens:
YAAAAAAALL MIKE TEAVEE FROM WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY WAS A CONTESTANT ON JEOPARDY TODAY
— katie🌈🌷 (@heIIokatie) March 14, 2018
SO ARE WE JUST GUNNA ACT LIKE THAT ISNT MIKE TV FROM WILLY WONKA ON #JEOPARDY RIGHT NOW?!
— Meg Den (@MegDen) March 13, 2018
Wow, Mike Teevee from Willy Wonka was a contestant on Jeopardy! tonight. #selffulfillingprophecy
— Enos Williams (@lwew) March 14, 2018
— Ashton Bodenheimer (@ladybode) March 13, 2018
I was actually 100% expecting Paris to talk about Willy Wonka not backpacking 😞 #Jeopardy
— Eve Y. (@Eve_Yitagesu) March 13, 2018
— mjs (@leapinglizrds) March 14, 2018
And while Themmen may not have been victorious (he finished second with $6,800), he already won the hearts of many decades ago.
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