'Willy Wonka' star Denise Nickerson dies at 62

Ben Arnold
Contributor

Denise Nickerson, who played Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, has died at the age of 62.

She had been in ill health after suffering a severe stroke last year, and was admitted to hospital in Colorado with pneumonia earlier this week.

There she suffered a seizure which left her in a 'coma-like' state, with doctors putting her on life support.

Denise Nickerson (Credit: Getty)

But her family have confirmed that she died in hospital last night. In a post to Facebook, the family simply said: “She's gone.”

Her son Josh had previously kept fans informed of her condition, writing: “They just took off all the equipment. None of it was helping, but making her only more uncomfortable.

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“We’re telling her it’s okay to let go.”

Yesterday, a GoFundMe page was set up by Josh and his wife Jasmine, to help fund spiralling medical costs which had mounted up over the last year as they cared for her at home, with the family recently announcing that they are expecting their first child.

Nickerson as Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (Credit: Paramount/Getty)

They are now seeking help to cover the costs of funeral arrangements, as Ms Nickerson had no life insurance, and left no inheritance.

Nickerson was 13 when she won the role of the gum-chewing brat Violet Beauregarde in Mel Stuart's classic adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, opposite the late Gene Wilder.

Prior to her casting, as a child star she'd appeared in TV shows including The Doctors, Sesame Street companion series The Electric Company, and ABC's supernatural drama Dark Shadows.

After Willy Wonka, she went on to appear in The Brady Bunch, and auditioned for the role of Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist, just losing out to Linda Blair.

She continued to work through the 70s, on the soap Search For Tomorrow and in a number of TV movies, before leaving acting aged 21 to become a nurse.