Remembering Legendary Child Actor Denise Nickerson

By David Block

If you are over 50, you might have fond memories of both the ABC horror soap opera “Dark Shadows” (1966 to 1971) and the American musical fantasy family film, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” (1971).

1968 picture of Denise taken at the Dark Shadows studio.

Child actor Denise Nickerson who starred in both, died this past July 10, 2019 from pneumonia, which she contracted while in intensive care in a hospital near her home in Aurora Colo. She was 62.

In “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” she portrayed the nasty gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde who turned blue, inflated, and expanded into a giant blueberry.

Fellow child actor Peter Ostrum who portrayed Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka … shared Nickerson memories with this writer in a phone interview.

During the movie’s filming in Germany, both Ostrum and Nickerson stayed at the same hotel where they developed a long lasting friendship.

“What struck me about Denise early on was that she was very professional,” said Ostrum. “She had been acting for several years unlike me. I was the new kid on the block.”

He remembered her being kind to him during the movie’s production.

As adults, they both appeared at Willy Wonka … fan conventions.

“She was always impeccable about her appearance and how she dressed,” said Ostrum. “What struck me was how gracious she was to her fans. She always went the extra mile to be friendly, it was genuine.

Continue reading about the life of Denise Nickerson.

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