Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Denise Nickerson Passes On

Denise Nickerson, the child actress who played Amy Jennings on the soap opera Dark Shadows and Violet Beauregarde in the classic film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), died on July 10 2019 at the age of 62. The cause was complications from seizures and a stroke.

 Denise Nickerson was born on April 1 1957 in New York City. The family moved to Miami, Florida when she was still a baby. She was only two when she appeared in a TV commercial for a Florida heating company. She was 4 years old when she was discovered by Zev Buffman, a Florida theatre producer, at a local fashion show. She later appeared as Wendy in a production of Peter Pan at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami.

Miss Nickerson made her television debut in an episode of Flipper in 1965. It was in 1968 that she began playing Amy Jennings, the orphaned sister of Tom and Chris Jennings (twins both played by Don Briscoe). She continued on the show until 1970. She also appeared on the soap opera The Doctors and she later had a role on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow. Denise Nickerson was also a regular on the children's show The Electric Company, playing Alison (one of the Short Circus, a singing group on the show). She guest starred on the shows Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law; The Brady Bunch; and The Wonderful World of Disney. She appeared in the TV movies The Neon Ceiling; The Man Who Could Talk to Kids; If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever?; The Dark Side of Innocence; and Bert D'Angelo/Superstar. In 1968 she had appeared in an unsold pilot starring Bill Bixby titled Rome Sweet Rome. She also appeared in a 1977 commercial for Burger Chef, as well as other commercials.

Denise Nickerson made her film debut in 1971 in Willy Wonka & Chocolate Factory. She also appeared in the films Smile (1975) and Zero to Sixty (1978). Miss Nickerson also appeared on Broadway in the productions Sherry! (1967) and Our Town (1969).

Denise Nickerson retired after the movie Zero to Sixty to become a nurse. She later became an accountant.

Denise Nickerson was certainly talented as a child actress. While best known for playing the bratty Violet in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, she was capable of playing other roles quite well. The role of Amy on Dark Shadows was certainly a far cry form Violet. In Zero to Sixty she played 16 year old repo agent "Larry," who was different from both Violet and Amy.

From all reports Miss Nickerson was also a very sweet woman. She attended Dark Shadows conventions, and everyone who met her remarked on her kindness. In real life, Denise Nickerson was the exact opposite of Violet Beauregarde. A talented child actress and a very nice woman, she will be missed by her fans.

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