Willy Wonka Actor Dies

Leonard Stone

ABC; Getty

updated 11/03/2011 AT 1:30 PM ET

originally published 11/03/2011 AT 2:00 PM ET

Character actor Leonard Stone, who played Sam Beauregard, the brash American father of gum-smacking Violet Beauregard in the 1971 children’s movie musical Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, died from cancer on Wednesday, his family confirms to PEOPLE. He would have turned 88 on Thursday.

With extensive TV credits dating back to the mid-1950s, Stone, a native of Salem, Oregon, appeared on such shows as L.A. Law (as Judge Paul Hanson), General Hospital, M*A*S*H, Hill Street Blues, Night Court, Alice, Barney Miller, All in the Family and Mission: Impossible, according to the Internet Movie Database.

In Willy Wonka, based on the 1964 Roald Dahl novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Violet (Denise Nickerson) fails to follow the strict rules set down by the candymaker (Gene Wilder) and ends up turning into a blueberry, much to the dismay of her father.

Leonard Stone

ABC; Getty
Stone also had a Broadway career, and received a Tony nomination for his role as George Poppett in the 1959 Bob Fosse musical Redhead, starring Gwen Verdon and set in London at the time of Jack the Ripper.

in 2000, reports IMDB, he won $4,250 and a trip to Bermuda on TV’s Wheel of Fortune. He is survived by his wife, Carol, three daughters, a son and eight grandchildren.

“Being a parent and grandparent was a huge and wonderful part of his life,” his granddaughter, Frankie Stone Solomon, tells PEOPLE. “He was a really amazing man and a phenomenal grandparent. We were really just so lucky.”

TMZ.com first reported Stone’s death.


From Our Partners