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Denise Nickerson (1957–2019), played Violet Beauregarde in “Willy Wonka”

Getty Images / WireImage / Steve Granitz

The child actress also had a notable role on TV's "Dark Shadows"

Denise Nickerson was a former child actress best known for playing Violet Beauregarde, the gum-chewer who turns into a blueberry, in the 1971 movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Nickerson was already an experienced television actress before taking the role at 13, having appeared in an episode of “Flipper” and had recurring roles on Gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows” as Amy Jennings and Nora Collins. She later became a cast member on “The Electric Company,” starred in the TV movie “The Man Who Could Talk to Kids,” and appeared on episodes of shows including “The Brady Bunch,” as well as appearing in movies “Smile” and “Zero to Sixty.” Nickerson largely retired from acting at 21 and pursued a nursing career.

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Died: July 10, 2019 (Who else died on July 10?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 62 at a hospital near her home in Colorado after suffering a stroke last year.


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After her acting career: Though Nickerson retired from acting, she didn’t forget the role that brought her greatest fame. She was a regular at fan conventions, and she reunited with cast members in a 2011 dessert-themed episode of “Top Chef,” as well as on “Today” four years later.

Nickerson on being recognized for “Willy Wonka”: “Look, I mean, we are the fortunate ones. We’re here. We got to really see it and experience it. The first thing people do when they find out who we are is they smile.” —from her 2015 “Today” appearance

What people said about her: “So very sorry to say that my dear friend and Wonka, sister, Denise Nickerson, has gone.” —Julie Dawn Cole, who played Veruca Salt in “Willy Wonka”

“Thanks for making quite the impact on a lot of us Denise Nickerson. You brought Violet to life in Willy Wonka, you will be missed.” —Twitter user @ozkangaroo

“Denise, thank you so much for making my childhood along with so many others childhood all the more enjoyable with your wonderful performance these past 48 years and may you fly high into a world of pure imagination. Rest in peace Denise Nickerson.” —Twitter user snDONlb

Full obituary: New York Daily News

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