Louise Fletcher dies at 88, Oscar for cruel nurse in the ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’


(Adnkronos) – Farewell to Louise Fletcher, the sweet American actress who won the Oscar for playing the ruthless nurse Mildred Ratched in the film ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1975) directed by Milos Forman with Jack Nicholson as the main protagonist . She died at the age of 88 on Friday 23 September of natural causes in her home in Montdurausse, France, as her son Andrew Bick told “The Hollywood Reporter”, stating that her mother had survived. to two breast cancers.

Hearing daughter of deaf parents – delivered one of the most touching acceptance speeches in Oscar history – Louise Fletcher also played the role of psychiatrist in John Boorman’s ‘The Exorcist II’ (1977), starring Richard Burton and Linda Blair and appeared opposite Peter Falk in ‘About Murders…’ (1978). On television, the actress played religious leader Kai Winn Adami in the series ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ (1993-99), garnering four Online Film & Television Association awards in the late 1990s, and received Emmy nominations. Award in 1996 and 2004 for his guest-star appearances in ‘The Brock Family’ (1996) and ‘Joan of Arcadia’ (2004) respectively.

She most recently played the drug mother of William H. Macy in the TV series ‘Shameless’ (2011-12) and appeared in the film ‘A Perfect Man’ (2013) by Kees Van Oostrum and in the Netflix series ‘Girlboss’ (2017) with Britt Robertson.

Born on July 22, 1934 in Birmingham, Alabama, to Episcopal Minister Robert Capers Fletcher and his wife Estelle Caldwell, both deaf and dumb, Louise Fletcher was initiated into acting at a very young age by an aunt who taught her to speak.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina, in 1958 she moved to Hollywood where she began her career as a television actress, appearing in episodes of the TV series ‘Perry Mason’, ‘Caravans to the West’, ‘Maverick’ and ‘The Untouchables’. and in Delbert Mann’s ‘Watch of the Eagles’ (1963). Her career came to a halt after her marriage to producer Jerry Bick, devoting herself to raising two children.

Fletcher returned to Hollywood in 1974 to star opposite Keith Carradine and Shelley Duvall in Robert Altman’s ‘Gang’. Director Milos Forman, at the time casting ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, based on Ken Kesey’s 1962 book about her life in an Oregon psychiatric hospital, noticed her in that film. After the rejections of Anne Bancroft, Angela Lansbury, Geraldine Page, Colleen Dewhurst and Ellen Burstyn, all unable to play Nurse Ratched – many believing the character to be too evil – Forman finally gave the part to Fletcher. In the film, the cold Ratched humiliates his patients and revokes their privileges on a whim. When she can’t control a newcomer, Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), she gives him shock therapy and then has him lobotomize.

The actress realized that her life had changed forever when she first watched the film in theaters with the audience and saw how people reacted to the scene where McMurphy tries to kill her character. In 1976, in the speech of acceptance of the Oscar for best actress, she referred to her character: “It seems that you all hated me so much that you gave me an Oscar … All I can say is that I loved being hated by you” . She then paid homage to her parents using sign language: “And if you will excuse me: for my mother and father, I want to say thank you for teaching me to have a dream. You are seeing my dream come true ”. For that evil role she also earned the Bafta Award and the Golden Globe.

In 2003 in a list devoted to the 100 greatest villains in the annals of film history, the American Film Institute placed Nurse Ratched at No. 5, behind only Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates, Darth Vader and the Wicked Witch of the West. In 2020 Sarah Paulson brought the character of the ruthless nurse back to life in Ryan Murphy’s prequel series ‘Ratched’ for Netflix.

Fletcher later worked in numerous films such as “The Wizard of Lublin” (1979), “Lucky Star” (1980), “Conjunction of two moons” (1988), “The protagonists” (1992) by Robert Altman, “Thoughts reckless “(1996). She has also appeared in science fiction and horror films such as “Uncontrollable Paranormal Phenomena” (1984), “Brainstorm – Electronic Generation” (1983), with Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood, and “Flowers in the Attic” (1987). In “Cruel Intentions – First Rule Don’t Fall in Love” (1999), Roger Kumble’s directorial debut, she played a genial and kind-hearted Long Island aristocrat. Other titles of his filmography are “My friend Frankenstein” (1996), “Two days without breath” (1996), “Love Kills – Love and bullets” (1998), “The map of the world” (1999), “The contract – blood pact ”(1999),“ After Image ”(2001).


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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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