TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Denise Nickerson, the child star who is best known for her role as Violet Beauregarde in 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died.
“She’s gone,” Nickerson’s son, Josh, and his wife, Jasmine, said in a message posted to Facebook late Wednesday night.
Before her death, the family posted an update, saying the actress had suffered a “major medical emergency” on Monday and her condition continued to worsen.
“She’s had seizures [Monday] morning and is in pulmonary and respiratory distress. The doctors have found that she aspirated and has developed pneumonia,” Jasmine wrote. “They have upped her oxygen. She’s under a DNR order so they aren’t putting her on a ventilator or feeding tube.”
By Tuesday, Nickerson was unable to breathe on her own and was in a “coma-like state,” according to Jasmine.
“They just took off all the equipment. None of it was helping, but making her only more uncomfortable. We’re telling her it’s okay to let go,” the couple wrote.
The family is disputing reports claiming the actress was taken off life support.
“Denise was not taken off life support,” the family wrote, in part. “She has a DNR in place. She was never ON life support. She simply had 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).”
Nickerson was 13 years old when she starred opposite Gene Wilder as the gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde in 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. She also appeared on the television series Dark Shadows, The Electric Company and The Brady Bunch.
She became a nurse after leaving Hollywood in 1978.
Nickerson was 62.