Actress Denise Nickerson, who appeared in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie, has been taken off life support one year after suffering a stroke, her family has confirmed.
Nickerson’s son Josh and his wife Jasmine announced the news via Facebook on Wednesday in a heartbreaking statement – while pleading with fans for help funding their mother’s funeral.
“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,” they wrote.
In an earlier post, Nickerson’s family revealed that the actress, known for her role as Violet Beauregarde in the 1971 film, had a “major medical emergency” and was taken to the hospital.
According to an update on the family’s GoFundMe page, set up to help with funeral costs, Nickerson “got into her medicines and took as much as she could” on Monday while Josh and Jasmine were away at a doctor’s appointment.
“We spent all day in the ER and she was finally moved into the ICU last night. She’s had seizures this morning and is in pulmonary and respiratory distress,” the family shared on Facebook.
“The doctors have found that she aspirated and has developed pneumonia. They have upped her oxygen. She’s under a DNR order so they aren’t putting her on a ventilator or feeding tube and right now we just have to wait for updates.”
Just hours later, they shared another update, saying the actress was in a “coma-like state”.
“We’re here with her now. So, after the seizure and because of the pneumonia, she’s not really breathing on her own. Specifically, she’s not exhaling. Her lungs and brain activity are too weak. As it stood earlier today, she had too much CO2 in her blood and she’s in almost a coma-like state. She will respond to being shaken and open her eyes but there’s not really acknowledgement of any kind.”
The family have set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs for Nickerson, who wishes to be cremated and have the ashes turned into a piece of glass art.
“I’m sorry we are asking for help but we….We can’t do it on our own,” the family wrote. “We need help. Anything you can spare is a big help. Even if you can’t donate simply sharing the link, and sharing our story so we can send Denise off and get some help and peace over the next few months would be so amazing.”
Fans have since flooded the family’s Facebook page, with one writing: “I am very sad for all of you. This is so difficult. I wish for peace for you all.”
Another added: “All of my love and condolences for you and Josh. I’ve been following Denise’s journey and my heart aches for you guys.”
And a third wrote: “I am truly sorry, and my thoughts and prayers are with you all.”
In Willy Wonka Nickerson played one of the spoiled children who wins a tour of the chocolate factory. She steals an experimental piece of chewing gum from Wonka’s factory that leads to her blowing up like a giant blueberry. The actress also had roles in The Brady Bunch, Sark Shadows and The Electric Company.