Denise Nickerson Dead at 62 Search for Tomorrow, Dark Shadows
Credit: Image: Marion Curtis/Starpix/Shutterstock

Soap opera alum gone too soon.

Actress Denise Nickerson, best known for her role as Violet in the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory died at the age of 62 Thursday July 11 a little over a year after she having a stroke. Nickerson suffered the stroke in June 2018, entered the ICU for treatment, and later a rehabilitation facility. Her son, Josh Nickerson and his wife, Jasmine, made public updates on her condition, which took a turn for the worst on July 8, 2019 when she experienced a ‘major medical emergency’ and was readmitted to the ICU. In a series of Facebook posts, her family members explained that she was kept comfortable, but was never on life support as she had a DNR. On July 10 the equipment being used was removed. The family explained they were “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). We stopped the use of those at 4 am because it wasn’t helping her. She was declining just as fast with the machines running as she has without them running. They were just making her uncomfortable and were unnecessary to stop or fix the problems she’s having.” On July 11, the family’s update simply said, “She’s gone.”

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Nickerson is survived by her only son, Josh Nickerson, and daughter-in-law, Jasmine Nickerson. The pair is pregnant with their first child; Nickerson’s first grandchild. The actress was married twice. Her first husband, Rick Keller, who she married in 1981, passed away from a brain aneurysm two years later. She wed Mark Williard in 1995, and they had their son before divorcing in 1998.

Nickerson’s first acting role was Tina in the 1960’s television series, Flipper, and she went on to play Amy Collins in Dark Shadows from 1968 – 1970. In 1971, she played the infamous role of Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory alongside Gene Wilder. Violet was the competitive girl who turned purple and blew up to twice her size after ingesting a piece of forbidden chewing gum containing a full three-course meal including blueberry pie. Nickerson played Liza Kendall on Search for Tomorrow from 1971 – 1972, had a year-long stint as Allison on Electric Company, and also appeared in series such as The Brady Bunch and The Magical World of Disney.

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