Oscar-winning ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ actor Louise Fletcher has died : NPR


Louise Fletcher holds the Academy Award she received for her main position in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” in Los Angeles, on March 30, 1976.

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Louise Fletcher holds the Academy Award she received for her main position in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” in Los Angeles, on March 30, 1976.

AP Picture/File

LOS ANGELES — Louise Fletcher, a late-blooming star whose riveting efficiency because the merciless and calculating Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” set a brand new commonplace for display villains and received her an Academy Award, has died at age 88.

Fletcher died in her sleep surrounded by household at her dwelling in Montdurausse, France, her agent David Shaul instructed The Related Press on Friday. No trigger was given.

After placing her profession on maintain for years to boost her kids, Fletcher was in her early 40s and little recognized when chosen for the position reverse Jack Nicholson within the 1975 movie by director Milos Forman, who had admired her work the 12 months earlier than in director Robert Altman’s “Thieves Like Us.” On the time, she did not know that many different outstanding stars, together with Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn and Angela Lansbury, had turned it down.

“I used to be the final particular person solid,” she recalled in a 2004 interview. “It wasn’t till we had been midway by capturing that I spotted the half had been supplied to different actresses who did not wish to seem so horrible on the display.”

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” went on to turn into the primary movie since 1934′s “It Occurred One Night time” to win greatest image, greatest director, greatest actor, greatest actress and greatest screenplay.

Clutching her Oscar on the 1976 ceremony, Fletcher instructed the viewers, “It seems to be as if you all hated me.”

She then addressed her deaf dad and mom in Birmingham, Alabama, speaking and utilizing signal language: “I wish to thanks for instructing me to have a dream. You’re seeing my dream come true.”

A second of silence was adopted by thunderous applause.

Later that evening, Forman made the wry remark to Fletcher and her co-star, Jack Nicholson: “Now all of us will make great flops.”

Louise Fletcher, a solid member in “Shameless,” poses on the premiere of the second season of the Showtime tv collection in Los Angeles, on Jan. 5, 2012.

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Louise Fletcher, a solid member in “Shameless,” poses on the premiere of the second season of the Showtime tv collection in Los Angeles, on Jan. 5, 2012.

Chris Pizzello/AP

Within the brief run, at the very least, he was proper.

Forman subsequent directed “Hair,” the film model of the hit Broadway musical that didn’t seize the attraction of the stage model. Nicholson directed and starred in “Goin’ South,” typically thought to be one in every of his worst movies. Fletcher signed on for “Exorcist II: The Heretic,” a misconceived sequel to the landmark authentic.

Excess of her male friends, Fletcher was hampered by her age to find main roles in Hollywood. Nonetheless, she labored constantly for many of the remainder of her life. Her post-“Cuckoo’s Nest” movies included “Mama Dracula,” “Lifeless Children” and “The Boy Who Might Fly.”

She was nominated for Emmys for her visitor roles on the TV collection “Joan of Arcadia” and “Picket Fences,” and had a recurring position as Bajoran non secular chief Kai Winn Adami in “Star Trek: Deep House 9.” She performed the mom of musical duo Carpenters in 1989’s “The Karen Carpenter Story.”

Fletcher’s profession was additionally hampered by her peak. At 5-feet-10, she would usually be dismissed from an audition instantly as a result of she was taller than her main man.

Fletcher had moved to Los Angeles to launch her performing profession quickly after graduating from North Carolina State College.

Working as a health care provider’s receptionist by day and finding out at evening with famous actor and instructor Jeff Corey, she started getting one-day jobs on such TV collection as “Wagon Prepare,” “77 Sundown Strip” and “The Untouchables.”

Fletcher married producer Jerry Bick within the early Nineteen Sixties and gave delivery to 2 sons in fast succession. She determined to place her profession on maintain to be a stay-at-home mom and did not work for 11 years.

“I made the selection to cease working, however I did not see it as a selection,” she stated within the 2004 interview. “I felt compelled to remain at dwelling.”

She divorced Bick in 1977 and he died in 2004.

In “Cuckoo’s Nest,” primarily based on the novel Ken Kesey wrote whereas participating in an experimental LSD program, Nicholson’s character, R.P. McMurphy, is a swaggering, small-time prison who feigns madness to get transferred from jail to a psychological establishment the place he will not need to work so laborious.

As soon as institutionalized, McMurphy discovers his psychological ward is run by Fletcher’s chilly, imposing Nurse Mildred Ratched, who retains her sufferers tightly underneath her thumb. As the 2 conflict, McMurphy all however takes over the ward along with his bravado, resulting in stiff punishment from Ratched and the establishment, the place she restores order.

The character was so memorable she would turn into the idea for a Netflix collection, “Ratched,” 45 years later.

Estelle Louise Fletcher was born the second of 4 kids on July 22, 1934, in Birmingham. Her mom was born deaf and her father was a touring Episcopal minister who misplaced his listening to when struck by lightning at age 4.

“It was like having dad and mom who’re immigrants who do not converse your language,” she stated in 1982.

The Fletcher kids had been helped by their aunt, with whom they lived in Bryant, Texas, for a 12 months. She taught them studying, writing and talking, in addition to how you can sing and dance.

It was these latter research that satisfied Fletcher she wished to behave. She was additional impressed, she as soon as stated, when she noticed the film “Girl within the Darkish” with Ginger Rogers.

That and different movies, Fletcher stated, taught her “your dream might turn into actual life when you wished it unhealthy sufficient.”

“I knew from the flicks,” she would say, “that I would not have to remain in Birmingham and be like everybody else.”

Fletcher’s dying was first reported by Deadline.

She is survived by her two sons, John and Andrew Bick.


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