‘Willy Wonka’ actress Denise Nickerson dies at age 62

Entertainment

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 18: Denise Nickerson who played Violet Beauregarde in the original film attends the 40th Anniversary of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory at Jacques Torres Chocolates on October 18, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

(NBC News) Denise Nickerson, known for her role as sassy, gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde in the classic film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” has died. She was 62.

Nickerson’s son, Josh and daughter-in-law, Jasmine, made the announcement on their Facebook page.

“She’s gone,” it read.

Jasmine Nickerson later confirmed the death to NBC News. “She passed at approximately 10:15 tonight,” she said on Wednesday evening.

Prior to her passing, the family posted an update announcing her death was imminent.

“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,” it read.

The actress had been on life support, reports Variety, although her family disputed that claim in a Facebook post shortly before her death.

“Denise was not taken off life support,” the family wrote, in part. “She has a DNR in place. She was never ON life support. She simply had basic machines running like the IV drip with antibiotics and anti seizure meds, and a very strong oxygen pump (not a ventilator which is a life support device).”

Nickerson had been in intensive care after she had a stroke in June 2018.

“She’s stable and had the feeding tube put in this afternoon,” her family said in a statement to TODAY after the stroke. “She’s doing OK. We are holding strong as well. The only message we really have is that we are positive she’s getting better and continuing to fight so we have hope. We appreciate all the thoughts, prayers, love, donations, and kindness sent to us and her at this time.”

Nickerson retired from acting by the end of the 1970s and went to work in a doctor’s office. While some reports indicated she was a nurse, her family clarified that on Facebook. “Denise was not a nurse. She worked in doctor’s offices as a receptionist and that wasn’t even the ‘end all, be all’ job for her,” they wrote.

Back in 2015, Nickerson appeared with several of the film’s stars on TODAY and said she didn’t mind chewing so much gum for the movie. “I was having a ball,” she said.

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