Louise Fletcher is a star late in bloom whose performance as Nurse Ratched In was riveting “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”Set a new standard in screen villains, and she won an Academy Award. She died at the age of 88.
Fletcher passed away peacefully in the company of her family in Montdurausse France. This was confirmed by her agent David Shaul to The Associated Press. The cause of her death was not given.
After putting her career on hold for years to raise her children, Fletcher was in her early 40s and little known when chosen for the role opposite Jack Nicholson in the 1975 film by director Milos Forman, who had admired her work the year before in director Robert Altman’s “Thieves Like Us.” At the time, she didn’t know that many other prominent stars, including Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn and Angela Lansbury, had turned it down.
“I was the last person cast,”In a 2004 interview, she recalls. “It wasn’t until we were halfway through shooting that I realized the part had been offered to other actresses who didn’t want to appear so horrible on the screen.”
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” went on to become the first film since 1934′s “It Happened One Night”You will be awarded best picture, best film, best director, top actor, actress, or screenplay.
Fletcher said to the audience that she was holding her Oscar, which she received at the 1976 ceremony. “It looks as though you all hated me.”
Then, she addressed her Birmingham deaf parents using sign language and talking. “I want to thank you for teaching me to have a dream. You are seeing my dream come true.”
The thunderous applause was immediately followed by a moment in silence.
Fletcher, Jack Nicholson and Fletcher were both amused by Forman’s witty comment later that night. “Now we all will make tremendous flops.”
At least in the short term, he was correct.
Forman next directed “Hair,”This movie adaptation of Broadway’s smash musical was not as successful. Nicholson directed the film and was a star in it. “Goin’ South,”It is generally considered one of Fletcher’s worst movies. Fletcher signed up for “Exorcist II: The Heretic,”The sequel was misconceived to the iconic original.
Fletcher, unlike her male counterparts, was more limited than most by her inability to find major Hollywood roles. She worked tirelessly for the majority of her adult life. She was a successful post-graduation.“Cuckoo’s Nest”Films included “Mama Dracula,” “Dead Kids”And “The Boy Who Could Fly.”
Her guest appearances on TV shows earned her Emmy nominations “Joan of Arcadia”And “Picket Fences,”He played a consistent role as the Bajoran religious leader Kai Winn Adami. “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” She played the mother of musical duo Carpenters in 1989′s “The Karen Carpenter Story.”
Fletcher’s career was also hampered by her height. Fletcher, who was 5-feet-10 tall, would frequently be disqualified from auditions immediately due to her greater height than the leading man.
Fletcher, who had just graduated from North Carolina State University, moved to Los Angeles in order to start her acting career.
Working as a doctor’s receptionist by dayAnd studying at night with noted actor and teacher Jeff Corey, she began getting one-day jobs on such TV series as “Wagon Train,” “77 Sunset Strip” and “The Untouchables.”
Fletcher was married to Jerry Bick, a producer in the 1960s. She gave birth quickly to two boys. She decided to put her career on hold to be a stay-at-home mother and didn’t work for 11 years.
“I made the choice to stop working, but I didn’t see it as a choice,”In the interview from 2004, she stated these words. “I felt compelled to stay at home.”
In 1977, she divorced Bick and he passed away in 2004.
“Cuckoo’s Nest,” based on the novel Ken Kesey wrote while taking part in an experimental LSD program, Nicholson’s character, R.P. McMurphy, is a swaggering, small-time criminal who feigns insanity to get transferred from prison to a mental institution where he won’t have to work so hard.
Once institutionalized, McMurphy discovers his mental ward is run by Fletcher’s cold, imposing Nurse Mildred Ratched, who keeps her patients tightly under her thumb. McMurphy and Ratched clashing, which leads to McMurphy almost taking over the ward. Ratched then punishes her severely. Ratched eventually restores order.
Because the character was memorable, she became the inspiration for a Netflix series. “Ratched,”45 years later.
Estelle Louise was the second child of four, and she was born in Birmingham on July 22, 1934. Her mother was deaf, and her father was an Episcopal traveler minister. He was struck by lightning in age 4 and lost all his hearing.
“It was like having parents who are immigrants who don’t speak your language,”In 1982, she spoke out.
They were supported by their aunt who lived in Bryant Texas with them for over a year. Her teachings included writing, reading and speaking as well as singing and dancing.
Fletcher was inspired by these studies and decided to pursue acting. Fletcher once stated that she was even more inspired by the film. “Lady in the Dark”Ginger Rogers.
Fletcher explained that this and many other films taught Fletcher. “your dream could become real life if you wanted it bad enough.”
“I knew from the movies,””She would reply, “that I wouldn’t have to stay in Birmingham and be like everyone else.”
Fletcher’s death was first reported by Deadline.
John and Andrew Bick, her sons, are still with her.
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