Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory star Denise Nickerson has died at the age of 62, her family have confirmed.
The actress, who starred as Violet Beauregarde in the 1971 film, passed away just hours after she was taken off medical equipment that was helping to keep her alive.
While Nickerson’s son Josh and his wife Jasmine shared a simple message on Facebook which read, “She’s gone”, the family also told US site TMZ that she passed away in her hospital room on Wednesday evening around 10.30pm Colorado US time.
They reported that the actress had had several visits from her close friends and family throughout the day, who all paid their respects and said a final farewell.
Just hours before confirming she had passed away, Josh and Jasmine shared a lengthy update on Facebook confirming she was “going very slowly” and had lived longer than they could have ever imagined.
“She’s been given morphine to keep her pain free and slow her breathing, so it’s just not so ‘gasp-y’,” they added. “She has random and semi-frequent seizures, but their intensity has grown far less severe as the day has progressed. Things have been relatively quiet and peaceful all day. We’ve had visitors to share fond memories, say their goodbyes, lift our spirits, and support us. We’ve taken turns resting, and crying, and coping, and back again.”
They went on to clear up mis-information in the public eye, revealing she was not taken off life support as she had a do-not-resuscitate order (DNR) in place – meaning she was never on life support.
“She simply had basic machines running like the IV drip with antibiotics and anti seizure meds, and a very strong oxygen pump (not a ventilator which is a life support device). We stopped the use of those at 4 am because it wasn’t helping her,” they added.
In an earlier post, Nickerson’s family revealed that the actress 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.”
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 shared their messages of support for the family since the news broke, with one writing: “Im so sorry for your loss, she isn’t in anymore pain anymore. thank you Denise Nickerson for being a part of my childhood.”
While another added: “I’m so sorry to hear this. At least she is at peace and not longer suffering. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time.”
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.#RIPDeniseNickerson pic.twitter.com/uuKvRuNIuS
— Satyendra N. Banerjee (@snDONIb) July 11, 2019
And one wrote: “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.”