On July 10, actress Denise Nickerson, best known for playing the role of Violet Beauregarde in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder, passed away. She was 62. Nickerson’s family confirmed the news on Facebook, simply writing, “She’s gone.”
A day earlier, it was reported that Nickerson was taken to the hospital where doctors diagnosed her with pneumonia. While still in the hospital on Tuesday night, she suffered from a massive seizure, which further complicated her health issues, and Nickerson was put on life support.
Nickerson previously experienced severe health issues back in June 2018. After suffering from stroke, she received treatment in the hospital’s ICU.
As her condition continued to worsen on Tuesday night, Nickerson’s family, which includes her son Josh, and his wife, kept everyone updated via Facebook writing, “They just took off all the equipment. None of it was helping, but making her only more uncomfortable. We’re telling her it’s okay to let go.” They told TMZ at the time that they chose to remove the respirator and stopped giving her medicine once it became apparent that she would not be able to recover.
Knowing it was just a matter of time before she passed, Nickerson’s son and daughter-in-law started a GoFundMe to help honor Denise’s wish of being cremated after her death, and having her ashes turned into glass artwork.
Born on April 1, 1957, in New York City, before starring in one of the most iconic films of the century, Nickerson’s first acting job was playing Amy Jennings/Nora Collins/Amy Collins on the TV series Dark Shadows. After nabbing the role as the gum chewing-loving Violet in Willy Wonka, she starred on shows like The Electric Company, Search for Tomorrow, and The Brady Bunch. She also starred in numerous movies, such as If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever, Smile, Zero to Sixty, before retiring from show business to pursue a nursing career.
Nickerson is survived by her son Josh, whom she had with ex-husband, Mark Willard. They were married in 1995 before divorcing in 1998. She was previously married to Richard Keller.