Denise Nickerson, best known for her work in 1971’s Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factor playing the role of Violet Beauregarde, has been taken off life support one year after suffering a severe stroke.
Her son, Josh Nickerson, and his wife Jasmine, announced the news that the 62-year-old actress had been removed from “all the equipment” on Facebook.
“None of it was helping, but making her only more uncomfortable. We’re telling her it’s okay to let go,” the couple wrote on their shared Facebook page.
On Monday (US Time), Nickerson was rushed to the emergency room and eventually ICU after suffering a “major medical emergency”.
“She’s had seizures this 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.”
Unfortunately, her condition continued to worsen, and by Tuesday, was unable to exhale on her own due to “weak” lung and brain activity.
“He’s [Denise’s son] never really experienced a major loss like this,” she posted.
“He is just coming to terms with the reality of the situation and doesn’t know how to process it. He says to me a few minutes ago that she won’t ever get to see or hold or know her granddaughter [expected later this year].”
In June 2018, Nickerson suffered a severe stroke. She had a pacemaker inserted shortly after, but was still at high risk of additional strokes, and would “likely require 24 hour care for the rest of her life.”
However, a month later, she was able to go home after recovering in a rehabilitating centre, even welcoming her Willy Wonka co-stars Paris Themmen (Mike Teevee) and Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt) for a visit in September.
The actress was just 13 when she got her big break opposite Gene Wilder in the cult classic, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.
UPDATE (3PM): Denise has died at age 62.
The family confirmed the news, writing: “She’s gone.”
Our thoughts are with Denise‘s family during this difficult time.