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, it is reported. 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 theInternet 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.
Stone also had a Broadway career, and received a Tony nomination for his role as George Poppett in the 1959 Bob Fosse musicalRedhead, starring Gwen Verdon and set in London at the time of Jack the Ripper.
IMDB reports that Stone and wife (since 1964) Carole H. Kleinman had a daughter – and in 2000 he won $4,250 and a trip to Bermuda on TV’sWheel of Fortune.
TMZ.com first reported Stone’s death.
BY STEPHEN M. SILVERMAN