Denise Nickerson, who played Violet Beauregarde in ‘Willy Wonka,’ dead at 62

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Nickerson starred as the gum-obsessed, self-centered Violet opposite Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.

Denise Nickerson as Violet Beauregard in “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory” (1971).Mary Evans / Ronald Grant / Everett Collection

Denise Nickerson, best known for her role as the bratty, bubble gum-blowing Violet Beauregarde in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” died Wednesday night after complications from seizures and a stroke, her family said.

She was 62.

Nickerson’s son, Josh, and his wife, Jasmine, announced on Facebook that she had died, writing, “She’s gone.” Jasmine told NBC News that her mother-in-law died at about 10:15 p.m.

Nickerson suffered a stroke in June 2018 and a massive seizure Tuesday after complications from pneumonia, her family had said. She entered a “coma-like state” and could not be saved, they said.

Early Wednesday, the family decided to take her off anti-seizure medication and an oxygen pump because “none of it was helping, but making her only more uncomfortable.”

“We’re telling her it’s okay to let go,” they wrote. “We are heartbroken and reliving a grief we’ve lived every single day since she had the stroke over a year ago.”

In June of 2018, her son and his wife posted pictures of Nickerson blowing bubbles from a blue unicorn bubble machine, while wearing a colorful umbrella hat. “The last outing day before the stroke,” they wrote.

Nickerson was a young teen when she portrayed the gum-obsessed, self-centered Violet opposite Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in the 1971 film version of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” based on the popular children’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl.

In an iconic scene, her character swells up to resemble a giant blueberry after trying a new Wonka-created gum, as her father exclaims “Violet, you’re turning violet, Violet.”

Nickerson also had roles in “Dark Shadows,” and other television shows and movies throughout the 1960s and the 1970s before retiring. Her family said she went on to make a living as an accountant.

Josh and Jasmine Nickerson, who said they are expecting a baby in August, set up a GoFundMe for Nickerson’s medical and funeral expenses, saying the money from her time acting was long gone.

They said Nickerson asked “to be cremated and her ashes made into a piece of glass art,” and they want to make sure they are able to fulfill her last wish.

“We will miss our Mom/Neecers. We’re sorry you couldn’t meet your granddaughter. We love you,” they wrote.

Image: Elisha Fieldstadt

Elisha Fieldstadt

Elisha Fieldstadt is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

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