Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory actress Denise Nickerson has been hospitalized after suffering a severe stroke. TMZ reports that the actress is currently in critical condition and fighting for her life.
A Facebook group has been started for the actress after she suffered a stroke in late June. The Facebook group, titled “Raising Money For Jasmine And Josh Nickerson Hospital Fees And General,” has so far raised over $2,000 to help support the incurring medicals fees. The group has also been providing updates on the actress’ health since her hospitalization. The group is now offering cash for autographed items so the family can stay by her side.
Sources close to the actress tell TMZ that she is currently in the ICU and has had a pacemaker put in and needs to be fed through a feeding tube. However, the family insists she is a fighter and will pull through.
According to Do You Remember? the actress had a pacemaker put in post-stroke but began responding negatively to it and feeling agitated, despite it being put in successfully.
Denise Nickerson was born in April of 1957. The actress started her career as child star appearing in various TV shows throughout the ’60s. Nickerson caught her first break in 1968 when the cast of ABC’s soap drama Dark Shadows. Nickerson starred as recurring characters Amy Jenkins and Nora Collins during the show’s run from 1968-1970.
The actress caught her second big break, and signature role, as the gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde in the 1971 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka And the Chocolate Factory alongside late comedy actor Gene Wilder. She was only 13 at the time she landed the role.
After the success of Willy Wonka, Nickerson went on to experience success in various TV roles on acclaimed shows such as The Electric Company and Search For Tomorrow. The actress also appeared in various TV movies as well.
She auditioned for the role Regan MacNeil in the 1973 movie adaptation of The Exorcist; however, the role ultimately went to actress Linda Blair. In 1978, she starred in Zero To Sixty alongside Darren McGavin and Joan Collins. The film would be Nickerson’s last starring role.
After Nickerson turned 21 in 1978, the actress left acting to settle down. Nickerson married her first husband, Rick Keller, in 1981, who tragically passed two years later of a brain aneurysm. Nickerson married again in 1995 to Mark Willard with whom she had one son, Josh. The couple called it quits in 1998.