Denise Nickerson, best known for her role as Violet Beauregarde in the 1971 version of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” died Wednesday night. She had been taken off life support earlier in the day after suffering a stroke in 2018. She was 62.
Her family made the announcement on Facebook. “She’s gone,” the message read.
Nickerson suffered a severe stroke in June 2018 after which she entered the ICU for treatment. Despite entering a rehab facility later in the year, her son Josh Nickerson took to Facebook earlier Wednesday to announce her debilitating state which led to their decision to cease life support. “They just took off all the equipment. None of it was helping, but making her only more uncomfortable,” he wrote. “We’re telling her it’s okay to let go.”
Nickerson’s son and his wife Jasmine also created a GoFundMe page where the couple is posting updates on Nickerson’s health, where they reported that she had suffered from seizures shortly after being admitted into the hospital and later entered a “coma-like” state.
Jasmine also noted on the page her heartbreak for her husband. The couple announced in March that they’re expecting a baby girl. “He is just coming to terms with the reality of the situation and doesn’t know how to process it. He says to me a few minutes ago that she won’t ever get to see or hold or know her granddaughter,” she wrote.
Nickerson was a young teen when she played the gum-chewing and sassy Violet, who turns into a giant blueberry, in the first movie version of the iconic childrens’ book, opposite Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka.
Before that, she appeared on “Sesame Street” companion series “The Electric Company” as Alison. On “Dark Shadows,” she played Amy Jennings and Nora Collins from 1968-70. After appearing in soap opera “Search for Tomorrow” and several small roles in films including “Smile” before retiring from acting at age 21. She continued to make her living as a nurse.