Actress Denise Nickerson, best known as a former child star who appeared in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, has died. Over the past year, Nickerson had been struggling badly with her health following a severe stroke. This week, Nickerson had again been hospitalized and entered into a "coma-like" state after suffering from seizures, and there were no signs of recovery. The actress was then removed from life support on Wednesday, her son Josh Nickerson confirmed in a statement. "They just took off all the equipment. None of it was helping, but making her only more uncomfortable," Josh wrote online. "We're telling her it's okay to let go." Nickerson died later in the day at the age of 62.
You could say Denise Nickerson was born to be an actress when she first entered this world in 1957. She got her first TV gig at the ripe age of 2 by starring in a commercial for a Florida heating company. A few years after, she co-starred with Betsy Palmer (Friday the 13th) as Wendy's daughter in a Peter Pan play, which took her on the road. By the late '60s, she had been appearing on TV regularly, nabbing roles in shows like The Doctors and Dark Shadows. The early '70s would see her guest starring on The Brady Bunch and joining the cast of The Electric Company.
Of course, Nickerson's most well-known role is that of gum-chewing antagonist Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Directed by Mel Stuart, the movie is based on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel by Roald Dahl. It tells the story of an eccentric factory owner inviting children to explore the facility by way of using a golden ticket. After neglecting to follow Wonka's instructions, Violet locates and begins chewing an experimental gum with all of the flavors of a three-course meal. Unfortunately, it also turns her into a large blueberry, and Wonka rolls her off to be squeezed before she pops. Without a doubt, the scene is one of the most memorable moments of the movie.
Following Willy Wonka, Nickerson took on a few more acting roles in her younger years. She appeared on the CBS soap opera Search for Tomorrow and in movies like Smile with Melanie Griffith, The Man Who Could Talk to Kids with Peter Boyle, and Zero to Sixty with Joan Collins. When she turned 21 in 1978, however, Nickerson chose to retire from acting, only making occasional appearances on television since then. This includes a cast reunion for Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory on Top Chef: Just Desserts, which challenged the stars of the movie to create their own dishes. Nickerson also appeared in a televised cast reunion in 2015 for the Today show.
At this point, we wish Nickerson farewell as we look back upon the mark she left in Hollywood as a child star. Even at a young age, the actress forever immortalized herself with her memorable role in one of the most well-known movies of all time. She will not soon be forgotten. This information comes to us from Variety.