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'Willy Wonka' actress Denise Nickerson dies at 62, a day after her family decided to take her off life support

Her family had taken her off life support after she had been admitted to hospital and suffered a massive seizure on Tuesday
UPDATED JUL 11, 2019

Denise Nickerson, the actress who played Violet Beauregarde in the 1971 film 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory', has died aged 62.

Her family announced the news in a post on Facebook that read: "She's gone."

Earlier it was reported that she was living out the last moments of her life after her family revealed they have just taken her off life support.

Nickerson, best known for her role as Violet in 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory', was at home on Monday when she got into her medicine closet and ingested as many as she could. When her family came to check on her shortly thereafter, they immediately rushed her to hospital, TMZ reports.

Members of the cast of the film "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory" pose during a celebration marking the 30th anniversary of the film and the release of a special edition version of the movie August 27, 2001, at the Warner Bros. Studio Store in New York City. (Getty Images)

Doctors at the ER diagnosed the actress with pneumonia. She subsequently suffered a massive seizure on Tuesday when they had to put her on life support.

Nickerson's family told TMZ  her condition continued to worsen, and so they decided to take her off the respirator, removed her IVs, and stopped giving her medicine.

Her son and his wife have set up a fundraising page to honor her final wishes of being cremated. Reportedly, she also wanted her ashes turned into glass artwork.

On the Go Fund Me page, her son Joshua said: ‘She began to experience blood poisoning and her body shut down. She’s been in a coma-like state. She cannot be saved."

"At 3 am (07/10/19) we decided because the machines and medicines are not helping her but only making her more uncomfortable, that its okay to stop administering these things to her. We are heartbroken and reliving a grief we’ve lived every single day since she had the stroke over a year ago [sic]."

Nickerson, born in New York City in 1957, landed her first TV roles on American soap opera Dark Shadows as Amy Jennings and Nora Collins.

She was cast in composer John Barry's ill-fated musical Lolita, My Love in 1971, and eventually landed her breakout role as Violet Beauregarde, a gum-chewing brat in the movie adaption of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, opposite Gene Wilder, who played Willy Wonka.

The actress' most famous scene showed her character turn into a large blueberry after she defied Willy Wonka's warning and chewed an experimental gum containing a three-course meal.

Nickerson paid tribute to Wilder following his death in 2016. "He was such a kind, tender-hearted man. And for him to put up with us, my God what patience he must've needed for five of us running around," she said at the time.

Following her demise, actress Julie Dawn Cole, who played the spoilt Veruca Salt alongside Nickerson, spoke to Fox News.

"It is dreadfully sad. Denise has been like a sister to me and we were very close," she said in a statement. "She had a massive stroke last July and never really recovered. Paris [Themmen] (who played Mike Teevee) and I went to visit her in September. It was a very sad visit as she couldn't verbally communicate. But we sang songs - 'Willy Wonka' of course! And that made her smile and laugh."

Aside from the aforementioned projects, Nickerson played Liza Walton on the CBS soap Search for Tomorrow, starred in The Man Who Could Talk to Kids (opposite Peter Boyle), and was part of beauty pageant satire Smile.

She was married twice, with her first marriage to Rick Keller ending in 1983 after he died from a brain aneurysm. She later married Mark Willard and the pair had a son Josh, before eventually divorcing in 1998.