Andrew Dalton Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Late-blooming Academy Award-winning star Louise Fletcher, who set a new standard for screen villains as the cruel and calculating Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, has died at the age of 88.
Fletcher died in her sleep surrounded by her family at her home in Monduraus, France, her agent David Scholl told the Associated Press on Friday. No reason was given.
After putting his career on hold for years to raise his children, Fletcher was in his early 40s and little known when he was cast opposite Jack Nicholson in the 1975 film directed by Milos Forman. . ‘Thieves Like Us’ by Altman. At the time, she didn’t know that many other notable stars had turned it down, including Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, and Angela Lansbury.
“I was the last person cast,” she recalled in a 2004 interview. I realized that.”
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay since It Happened One Night in 1934.
Clutching his Oscar at the 1976 awards ceremony, Fletcher said to the audience:
She then spoke to her deaf parents in Birmingham, Alabama, speaking in sign language. “Thank you for teaching me to dream. You are watching my dreams come true.”
After a moment of silence, there was thunderous applause.
Later that night, Forman made sarcastic comments to Fletcher and her co-star, Jack Nicholson.
He was right, at least in the short term.
Foreman next directed ‘Hair,’ a film version of the hit Broadway musical that failed to capture the charm of the stage version. Nicholson directed and starred in ‘Goin’ South,’ which is generally considered one of his worst films. Fletcher has signed on for The Exorcist II: Heretic, a misunderstood sequel to the groundbreaking original.
Fletcher was, far more than her male peers, hindered by age from finding major roles in Hollywood. Her post-‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ films included ‘Mama Dracula’, ‘Dead Kids’ and ‘Boys Who Fly’.
She was nominated for Emmy Awards for her guest appearances on the TV series Jeanne of Arcadia and Picket Fence, and had a recurring role as Bajoran religious leader Kai Win Adami on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. She played the mother of musical duo The Carpenters in 1989’s The Karen Carpenter Story.
Fletcher’s career was also hampered by her height. At 5-foot-10, she was taller than the main character, so she was often quickly dismissed from auditions.
Fletcher moved to Los Angeles soon after graduating from North Carolina State University to launch her acting career.
Working as a doctor’s receptionist by day and studying with noted actor and teacher Jeff Corley by night, she starred in TV shows like Wagon Train, 77 Sunset Strip, and The Untouchables. I started working on the series for a day.
Fletcher married producer Jerry Bick in the early 1960s and had two sons in rapid succession. She decided to put her career on hold to become a stay-at-home mom and she did not work for 11 years.
“I made the choice to quit my job, but I didn’t consider it a choice,” she said in a 2004 interview. “I felt like I had to stay home.”
She divorced Vic in 1977 and he died in 2004.
In “The Cuckoo’s Nest,” based on a novel Ken Kesey wrote while participating in an experimental LSD program, Nicholson’s character, RP McMurphy, goes from prison to insanity to be transferred to a mental institution. Pretending, arrogant and short-lived criminals. He doesn’t have to try so hard.
Once institutionalized, McMurphy discovers that his psych ward is run by Fletcher’s Cold, an imposing nurse Mildred Ratchet who holds patients firmly under his thumb. When people clash, McMurphy uses bravado to take over the hospital ward and face severe punishment from Ratched and the agency she restores order to. 45 years later.
Estelle Louise Fletcher was born in Birmingham on 22nd July 1934, the second of four children. Her mother was born deaf and her father was an Itinerant Episcopal minister, but she lost her hearing at the age of four to a lightning strike.
“It was like having immigrant parents who didn’t speak their native language,” she said in 1982.
The Fletcher children were helped by an aunt who lived with them for a year in Bryant, Texas. She taught them how to read, write, speak, sing and dance.
It was the latter study that convinced Fletcher that he wanted to act. She once said she was even more inspired when she saw the Ginger Rogers movie Lady in the Dark.
According to Fletcher, that and other films taught her that “your dreams can become a reality if you want it enough.”
“I knew from the movies,” she said.
Fletcher’s death was first reported by Deadline.
She leaves two sons, John and Andrew Bick.
The late AP Entertainment writer Bob Thomas contributed biographical material to this report.
Follow AP Entertainment writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/09/23/oscar-winning-cuckoos-nest-actor-louise-fletcher-dies/ Oscar-winning ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ actor Louise Fletcher dies