Denise Nickerson, best-known as Violet Beauregarde in the classic 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, died Wednesday. She was 62.
THR reports her family removed her from life support Tuesday after she suffered a seizure. She had suffered a “severe stroke” in 2018 and had battled various health issues for at least a decade. Other reports indicate she wasn't removed from life support, but was removed from devices that were not helping her to improve.
Born April 1, 1957, in New York City, Nickerson made her TV debut in 1965 on an episode of Flipper.
She made a big impression as Amy Collins on Dark Shadows (1968-1970) and worked in the TV movie The Neon Ceiling (1971) before the release of Wonka, which has become a family favorite, in spite of its pronounced edge.
Nickerson's Violet Beauregarde has one of the most memorable sequences, when her gum-snapping character ignores candymaker Wonka's deadpan warnings (“Stop. Don't.”) chews experimental gum and turns into a gigantic blueberry.
In the scene, her dad — played by Leonard Stone (1923-2011) — utters the iconic line, “Violet! You're turning violet, Violet!”
The Oompa Loompas, a chorus of orange, green-haired dwarves declare gum-chewing “repulsive, revolting and wrong.”
On being forever remembered as Violet, Nickerson said in 2016:
“I’m a very fortunate lady to have been chosen to be a part of something that brings smiles to so many faces.”
Nickerson went on to appear in another 11 projects, including being Allison, a regular on The Electric Company (1972-1973), popping up on an episode of The Brady Bunch (1974) and playing a young pageant winner in the cult-favorite film Smile (1975).
Her final project was more than 40 years ago, the 1978 film Zero to Sixty, after which she made accounting — not nursing, as has been widely reported — her profession.
Survived by various family members, Nickerson's final wish was to have her ashes turned into glass art.