Julie Dawn Cole, the child actress who played Veruca Salt in the classic film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, is speaking out on the sad news about her co-star Denise Nickerson.
Nickerson, who suffered a debilitating stroke one year ago, was rushed to the ER earlier this week after a medical emergency where she suffered a “massive seizure” that, combined with her past stroke and pneumonia, put her in a “coma-like state,” as previously shared by The Inquisitr. Nickerson’s family has now announced that the former child star has been taken off of life support, is longer receiving medication, and is under a DNR order, Page Six reports.
As a child actress, Nickerson, 62, was best known as Violet Beauregarde, the gum chewing, blueberry loving tot who had to be rolled out of Mr. Wonka’s chocolate factory after eating a forbidden treat in the 1971 film starring Gene Wilder. Nickerson’s Willy Wonka co-star, Julie Dawn Cole, issued a statement to Fox News, revealing she is “heartbroken” over her childhood friend’s state.
“It is dreadfully sad. Denise has been like a sister to me and we were very close. She had a massive stroke last July and never really recovered. Paris [Themmen] (Mike Teevee) and I went to visit her in September. It was a very sad visit as she couldn’t verbally communicate. But we sang songs — Willy Wonka of course! And that made her smile and laugh.”
— The Sun (@TheSun) July 10, 2019
The British actress, who played “bad egg,” spoiled rich girl Veruca Salt in the Willy Wonka film went on to reveal that after the group’s visit with Nickerson last fall, the actress suffered several more seizures and “it was clear she was never coming back.” Cole also noted that the news is especially sad as Denise Nickerson was about to become a first-time grandmother next month.
“I am sure we would have had a lot to share with each other around that. My thoughts are with her son and daughter-in-law.”
Julie Dawn Cole also posted a message about Nickerson to Twitter to alert fans that the actress is not doing well.
Julie Dawn Cole previously told Fox News that she and Nickerson, as well as Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie Bucket in the beloved movie, became close friends on the Willy Wonka set nearly 50 years ago.
“We were the friendliest among the bunch because we were so close in age and we stayed in the same hotel,” Cole said last year. “We’re all still friends now. I consider [the other children] my brothers and sisters today. We’re a lifelong family.”
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In case you haven’t heard, my lovely Blueberry sister, Denise, is seriously ill. She has had a major stroke and other complications, the outcome of which we are not sure at the moment. Her son Josh, and daughter in law Jasmine, appreciate all your kind words and prayers. Denise update: She is being weaned off the ventilator and feed tube. Some movement and flashes of annoyance at IV tubes and nursing, which is a good sign in a blueberry! And this update from her son & daughter in law a little earlier this evening… “Denise update: I just spoke with her doctor. She's doing very well in terms of understanding, and executing commands. She' aware and coherent. She still hasn't said anything and she might not be able to. She had a small seizure late last night, but they think it's due to the issues she's having with her blood pressure. It's very low. Her heart is healing and getting stronger but they are going to proceed with a permanent pace maker. She will have another CT of her brain to ensure that it is no longer swelling and she won't have brain bleed. They intend to place her on blood thinners to prevent more blood clots and reduce the risk of another stroke. Positives but we're nervous about the upcoming procedure. She will need a lot of help but we will figure it out.” #DeniseNickerson #VioletBeauregarde #WonkaKids #willywonkaandthechocolatefactory #WillyWonka
In a 2014 interview with UK’s Express, Peter Ostrum also reflected on the Willy Wonka cast’s close bond.
“I’ve remained close with the other kids and we have enjoyed so many reunions over the years. We all share a special bond and today it’s as if they are family.”
The Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory stars have reunited over the years for conventions and for the famous film’s milestone anniversaries.
In addition to Nickerson, Cole, and Ostrum, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory also featured child actors Michael Bollner, who played Augustus Gloop, and Paris Themmen as Mike Teevee. Other stars in the film included the late Gene Wilder and Jack Albertson.
You can see Denise Nickerson’s most famous scene from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in the video below.