‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ Actress Was 88 – The Hollywood Reporter


Louise Fletcher, the candy actress from Alabama who received an Academy Award for her flip because the heartless Nurse Ratched — some of the reviled characters in film historical past — in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, has died. She was 88. 

Fletcher died Friday of pure causes at her residence in Montdurausse, France, her son Andrew Bick informed The Hollywood Reporter. She had survived two bouts with breast most cancers.

A daughter of deaf dad and mom — she made some of the touching acceptance speeches in Oscar historical past — Fletcher additionally starred as a psychiatrist in Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) and performed reverse Peter Falk amid the star-studded ensemble in The Low cost Detective (1978).

On tv, she portrayed the non secular chief Kai Winn Adami on Star Trek: Deep House 9 and acquired Emmy nominations in 1996 and 2004 for her guest-starring stints on Picket Fences and Joan of Arcadia, respectively.

She extra not too long ago performed William H. Macy’s meth-dealing mom on Shameless and appeared within the Liev Schreiber movie A Excellent Man (2013) and on the Netflix collection Girlboss, starring Britt Robertson.

After spending greater than a decade away from present enterprise to boost her two sons, Fletcher returned to Hollywood and appeared reverse Keith Carradine and Shelley Duvall within the Robert Altman movie Thieves Like Us (1974).

Director Milos Forman, then casting 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — based mostly on Ken Kesey’s 1962 e-book about life in an Oregon psychiatric hospital — noticed her in that film.

“He was watching it to have a look at Shelley Duvall to play one of many women who comes on the ward on the get together night time, and there I used to be,” Fletcher recalled in a 2016 interview. “He mentioned, ‘Who’s that?’ “

A yr later, after Anne Bancroft, Angela Lansbury, Geraldine Web page, Colleen Dewhurst and Ellen Burstyn all rejected the possibility to play Nurse Ratched — many believing that the character was too impossibly depraved — Forman lastly gave Fletcher the half.

“I attempted out for it many, many instances,” she mentioned. “I didn’t notice that a number of different girls had been turning it down. They supplied it to many film stars who declined, fortunately for me. To suppose, what if someone else had mentioned sure?”

Within the movie, the icy Ratched humiliates her sufferers and revokes their privileges on a whim. When she will’t management a brand new arrival, Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), she administers shock remedy on him, then has him lobotomized.

Fletcher knew her life had modified perpetually when she watched Cuckoo’s Nest with an viewers for the primary time and noticed how individuals reacted to a scene through which McMurphy tries to kill her character.

“It was in Chicago, and it was a packed home,” she recalled. “When he strangles her, the viewers stood up and yelled and cheered. Stood up. It was unbelievable. I used to be thrilled.”

On its 2003 checklist of the 100 best villains within the annals of movement photos, the American Movie Institute positioned Nurse Ratched at No. 5, behind solely Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates, Darth Vader and the Depraved Witch of the West. (Sarah Paulson not too long ago revived the character in a Ryan Murphy prequel collection for Netflix.)

After Fletcher heard her title known as by presenter Charles Bronson and got here to the stage on the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to just accept her Oscar, she mentioned: “Properly, it appears to be like such as you all hated me a lot that you just’ve given me this award for it, and I’m loving each minute of it. And all I can say is, I’ve beloved being hated by you.”

She then paid tribute to her dad and mom: “And in the event you’ll excuse me [using sign language]: for my mom and my father, I wish to say thanks for instructing me to have a dream. You might be seeing my dream come true.”

The second of 4 youngsters, she was born on July 22, 1934, in Birmingham, Alabama, to an Episcopal minister, Rev. Robert C. Fletcher, and his spouse, Estelle. They’d each misplaced their listening to once they had been youngsters, he when he was struck by lightning, she to sickness.

”If I fell down and damage myself, I by no means cried,” Fletcher informed The New York Occasions in 1975. “There was nobody to listen to me.”

She was extraordinarily shy, and her dad and mom despatched her to an aunt in Texas, the place she lived for elements of a number of years earlier than attending Ramsay Excessive College in Birmingham after which graduating from the College of North Carolina in 1957.

She took a visit to Los Angeles with buddies and determined to remain, working as a receptionist whereas taking appearing lessons at night time with the acclaimed trainer Jeff Corey. (Robert Blake was a fellow pupil.)

After getting regular work on such tv exhibits as Bat Masterson, Lawman, 77 Sundown Strip, Wagon Prepare and Perry Mason, the 5-foot-10 actress made her big-screen debut within the conflict movie A Gathering of Eagles (1963), starring Rock Hudson.

She had son John in 1961, and whereas pregnant with Andrew a yr later, she determined to step away from the enterprise. She was married to Jerry Bick, a literary agent who would produce such movies as Altman’s The Lengthy Goodbye (1973) and Thieves Like Us.

Fletcher mentioned she didn’t wish to seem in Thieves Like Us due to her husband’s involvement, however Altman insisted.

To arrange for her function in Cuckoo’s Nest, Fletcher noticed group remedy periods at Oregon State Hospital in Salem, the place the film was shot. She spent 11 weeks on the facility throughout the making of the movie.

In her New York Occasions interview, she described Mildred Ratched: “She was so out of contact together with her emotions that she had no pleasure in her life and no idea of the truth that she may very well be flawed. She delivered her care of her insane sufferers in a killing method, however she was satisfied she was proper.”

Pauline Kael of The New Yorker known as her efficiency “masterful,” and the movie additionally received Oscars for finest director, image, actor and screenplay, a sweep matched solely by It Occurred One Night time (1934) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

Fletcher by no means approached such appearing greatness once more.

The function of Linnea, the gospel-singing mom of two deaf youngsters in Nashville (1975), was created together with her in thoughts, however she and her husband had a falling-out with Altman, and Lily Tomlin bought the half (and an eventual supporting actress Oscar nom).

Fletcher did seem in different films together with The Woman in Crimson (1979), Brainstorm (1983), Firestarter (1984), Invaders From Mars (1986), Flowers within the Attic (1987), Two Moon Junction (1988), Blue Metal (1989), The Participant (1992) — again in good graces with Altman — Virtuosity (1995), Excessive College Excessive (1996), Mulholland Falls (1996), Merciless Intentions (1999) and A Map of the World (1999).

After she and Bick divorced, she made tabloid headlines by being romantically concerned with the much-younger Morgan Mason. (The son of British actor James Mason, he went on to marry singer Belinda Carlisle.)

Along with her sons, survivors embrace her sister, Roberta.

Ceaselessly identified for enjoying Nurse Ratched, Fletcher famous in 2012 that she may not bear to look at herself in Cuckoo’s Nest. “I used to be actually shocked in these scenes the place I used to be really so merciless,” she mentioned.


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