Denise Nickerson, the actress who played Violet Beauregarde in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, has died. On Wednesday, July 10 — one year after she suffered a stroke — Nickerson’s family told fans that Denise had been taken off of life support.
“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,” the Nickerson family posted on Facebook.
Here’s what you need to know:
Denise’s ‘Willy Wonka’ Role Was 1 of the Most Memorable in the Film & Defined Her Career
In the film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Violet Beauregarde was one of five children who found a golden ticket inside of a Wonka bar to earn her admission to Wonka’s chocolate factory. Whilst visiting the factory, Beauregarde got herself into some trouble, finding a newly created, not-yet-released candy simply irresistible.
The “amazing, fabulous, sensational” gum was made to taste like a three-course meal. An enthusiastic Beauregarde grabbed the gum out of Wonka’s hand and popped it into her mouth.
“I wouldn’t do that. I really wouldn’t,” Wonka warned.
Beauregarde quickly began experiencing all kinds of flavors, starting with tomato soup.
“It’s hot and creamy. I can actually feel it running down my throat. … Hey, second course is coming up! Roast beef and a baked potato!” Beauregarde exclaims. By the time dessert comes around, things got a little bit tricky for the youngster.
The blueberry pie ended up turning Beauregarde into a blueberry. Her dad yells, “Violet! You’re turning Violet, Violet!” Confused as to what’s going on, Beauregarde keeps on chewing the gum. Within seconds, her body starts expanding — she quite literally turned into a giant blueberry.
“It happens every time; they all become blueberries,” Wonka says. He then calls his Oompa Loompas to take Beauregard to the juicing room.
“She has to be squeezed immediately before she explodes,” Wonka tells Mr. Beauregarde.
The scene is one of the most memorable from the film.
Denise Is the First of the 5 Golden Ticket Winners to Die
Nickerson was the oldest of the five Golden Ticket winners from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and the first to pass away. She is survived by her son, Josh Willard, a product of her three-year marriage to ex-husband Mark Willard.
Peter Ostrum — who played Charlie Bucket, the titular character from the Roald Dahl novel on which the film was based — has only the single acting credit to his name. He became a veterinarian in his adult life.
Julie Dawn Cole, who portrayed the spoiled Veruca Salt, was born six months after Nickerson. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was the first of 47 film and television roles for which she’s credited on the Internet Movie Database.
Like Ostrum, Michael Bollner, who played the insatiable Augustus Gloop, also has only a single acting credit to his name on IMDb. According to Buzz.ie, he had some “minor roles” in German entertainment properties.
Paris Themmen, who played television addict Mike Tee Vee, had only a few minor roles following Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. He did, however, appear on a 2018 episode of popular game show Jeopardy. According to People, Themmen made no mention of his acting past during the segment in which host Alex Trebek speaks to contestants about their personal lives. But eagle-eyed viewers were quick to spot the former child actor.