Leonard Stone, who played the father who accompanied chronic gum-chewer Violet Beauregarde on a tour through a far-out candy palace in 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” died of cancer Wednesday in Encinitas, Calif., a day before his 88th birthday.
As fast-talking Sam Beauregarde in the film that starred Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, Stone watched in horror as his daughter turns into a giant blueberry and uttered the famous line “Violet, you’re turning violet, Violet!”
Although Stone contributed to 17 films, including “Soylent Green” and “Mame,” he spent most of his five-decade career working in television, starting in 1956 with appearances on “Kraft Theatre” and “Studio One in Hollywood.” He became a familiar face, if not necessarily a familiar name.
Stone started, however, in the theater. He starred Off Broadway in the title role of “Titus Andronicus” in 1956, then starred on Broadway in an adaptation of Thomas Wolfe’s “Look Homeward Angel” directed by George Roy Hill. In 1959 he appeared with Gwen Verdon and Richard Kiley in the Bob Fosse-directed musical “Redhead,” drawing a Tony nomination for best featured actor.
But TV is where Stone did most of his acting.
During the 1960s he guested on a number of crime dramas and Westerns, including “Peter Gunn,” “The Untouchables,” “The F.B.I.,” “The Rifleman” and “Rawhide.” He recurred on the brief summer-camp comedy “Camp Runamuck.”
Stone guested repeatedly in different roles on “Gunsmoke,” “Dragnet,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Ironside,” “Mannix,” “Barney Miller” and “Quincy, M.E.” He played a judge a number of times, recurring in such a role on “Falcon Crest” and in 10 episodes of “L.A. Law.”
He played Warren Buffett in A&E’s 2005 Arnold Schwarzenegger biopic “See Arnold Run” and last appeared on television in the 2006 CBS telepic “Surrender, Dorothy,” starring Diane Keaton.
Born in Salem, Ore., Stone served in the Navy during WWII, then attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In Australia, he was part of a traveling production of “South Pacific.”
Stone is survived by his wife, Carole; three daughters and a son; and eight grandchildren.
(Associated Press contributed to this report.)