Louise Fletcher, Oscar Winner for ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, Dies at 88

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Louise FletcherShe died Friday at her home in France, according to a representative, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her indelible performance as Nurse Ratched in Milos Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” She was 88 years old.

The classic film, based on the novel by Ken Kesey and exploring the oppressive tendencies of authority through the story of a psych ward’s patients and staff, won five Oscars in 1976, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Jack Nicholson.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was the first film in more than four decades to cross the major categories of Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay. It was nominated for an additional four Oscars and was also a huge box office hit.

In the American Film Institute TV special “100 Years of the AFI… 100 Heroes and Villains”, Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched was named the fifth greatest villain in film history – and the second greatest villain, behind only the Wicked Witch of the West. .

Ironically, the character Ratched was softer in the script than in Casey’s original, and Fletcher gave a subtle performance, often expressing the character’s feelings through only facial expressions, which is why he was the first to I deserved my Oscar. In fact, the actress enables us to feel sorry for Ratched in more than one pivotal moment in the film.

In a 2003 reissue of “Cuckoo’s Nest”, Roger Ebert declared that despite the Oscars, Fletcher’s performance “has not been appreciated enough. This may be because his nurse Ratched is so disgusting, and because he is totally Se embodies the qualities we all (men and women) have been taught to fear in a certain kind of female authority figure – a woman who has embodied sexuality and humanity in her duty and righteousness.”

However, it can be argued that the role Nurse Ratched and Oscar earned for that performance ultimately did Fletcher more harm than good: in a review of the horror film “Flowers in the Attic”, in which the actress starred in 1987 In the U.S., a frustrated and sympathetic Washington Post writer said, “Fletcher should talk to her agent about these stereotypical ‘evil’ roles in which she has become increasingly exhausting.”

But Fletcher may have requested his agent for a variety of roles, but to no avail.

She most recently appeared in the 2013 feature ‘A Perfect Man’, starring Liev Schreiber and Jean Triplehorn.

On TV, Fletcher played family matriarch Peggy “Grammy” Gallagher, a cunning ex-election who wanted a relationship with her grandson, on Showtime’s “Shameless.” The actress reprized as scheming, imitative spiritual leader Vinn Adami on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” from 1993–99, the cult-science “VR.5” from 1995–97, and “ER” in 2005.

She was nominated for an Emmy for guest roles in “Picket Fence” in 1996 and “Joan of Arcadia” in 2004.

Fletcher returned to acting in 1974, raising a family after more than a decade and giving a supporting performance in Robert Altman’s “Thives Like Us”, which Pauline Kell called “impressively strong”, But the actress didn’t have a high profile in Hollywood when she was cast as Ratched.

Angela Lansbury, Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, Colleen Duhurst and Geraldine Page all turned down the Ratched role, each fearing the potential impact on their careers.

Director Milos Forman offered Fletcher a chance to see him in “Thieves Like Us”.

“She was wrong for everyone [Ratched] The role was but something about him,” Forman later wrote in his memoir. “I asked him to read it with me and suddenly, beneath the velvety exterior, I discovered a tenacity and a will for the role. was prepared.”

Fortunately, there were few opportunities to avoid typecasting.

He acquitted himself well in the 1978 noir spoof “The Cheap Detective” starring Peter Falk.

In the 1979 drama “Natural Enemy”, she played alongside Hal Holbrook as a husband who murders his family. Critic Richard Winters wrote that Fletcher is “playing the polar opposite of his Nurse Ratched character. Here he is vulnerable and fragile rather than harsh and authoritative and even as a patient inside a mental hospital. There’s also the visuals. The fact that she can play so many different characters proves what a wonderful actress she is.”

In 1999’s “Cruel Intentions,” he played a friendly, warm-hearted Long Island aristocrat.

Other film credits include “The Exorcist II: The Heretic”, starring alongside Richard Burton and Linda Blair; sci-fi “Brainstorm” with Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood; “Firestarter,” starring a young Drew Barrymore; and “2 Days in the Valley.”

Estelle Louise Fletcher was born in Birmingham, Alabama. His parents were deaf; He was introduced to acting by the aunt who taught him to speak at the age of 8. Fletcher attended the University of North Carolina; After taking a cross-country trip, she stuck in Los Angeles and soon got into acting.

The young actress made her screen debut in 1958, appearing in “Playhouse 90” among other television shows. The following year he made guest appearances in “Maverick,” “77 Sunset Strip” and “The Untouchables.” She appeared twice in “Perry Mason” in 1960, but by 1963 she had left her career, at least briefly, after making her feature debut in “A Gathering of Eagles”.

In 1973, after raising her children, she resumed her profession with a guest appearance at the “Medical Center”. After doing a TV film, she was cast in a supporting role in “Thives Like Us” – a film her husband, Jerry Bick, was producing.

Fletcher’s life story helped serve as the inspiration for one of the main characters in Robert Altman’s classic 1975 film “Nashville”, and when Bick and Altman had a dispute, he was chosen to play the character. Were prepared.

Fletcher was married to Bick, a literary agent in Hollywood, who was later also a producer from 1959–78. He died in 2004. He is survived by his sons John Dashiell Bick and Andrew Wilson Bick.

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