Louise Fletcher, the sweet-natured actress from Alabama who won an Academy Award for her role as heartless nurse Ratched—one of the most hated characters in movie history—in Someone flew over the cuckoo’s nest, Die. She was 88 years old.
Her son, Andrew Beck, said Fletcher died Friday of natural causes at her home in Montdaurus, France The Hollywood Reporter. She has survived two bouts of breast cancer.
The daughter of deaf parents – who gave one of the most touching acceptance speeches in Oscar history – Fletcher starred as a psychiatrist in Exorcist II: Heretic (1977) and played opposite Peter Falk in the star-studded band in cheap detective (1978).
On TV, she portrayed the religious leader Kai Wen Adami Star Trek: Deep Space Nine She received Emmy Award nominations in 1996 and 2004 for her guest starring role picket fences And the Jean ArcadiaStraight.
After spending more than a decade away from the show business raising her two sons, Fletcher returned to Hollywood and appeared opposite Keith Cardin and Shelley Duvall in the Robert Altman film. Thieves like us (1974).
Director Milos Formanthen choose 1975 Someone flew over the cuckoo’s nest -Based on Ken Kesey’s 1962 book about life in an Oregon psychiatric hospital – I spotted her in that movie.
“He was watching it to look at Shelley Duvall to play one of the girls who come into the suite on prom night, and I was there,” Fletcher remember In a 2016 interview, he said: Who is this? “
A year later, after Anne Bancroft, Angela LansburyGeraldine Page, Colin Dewhurst and Elaine Borstein Everyone turned down the chance to play Nurse Ratched – many thought the character was too evil – Foreman finally gave the role of Fletcher.
“I’ve tried it many times,” she said. “I didn’t realize that a lot of women would refuse it. They showed it to many movie stars who refused, fortunately for me. Let’s think, what if someone else said yes?”
In the film, the icy Ratched humiliates her patients and revokes their privileges on a whim. When You Can’t Control A New Arrival, Randall McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), you perform shock therapy on it, and then it is separated by lobes.
Fletcher knew her life had changed forever when she saw cuckoo’s nest with the audience for the first time and saw how people reacted to a scene in which McMurphy tries to kill her character.
“It was in Chicago, and it was a busy house,” she recalls. “When he strangled her, the audience stood up and shouted and cheered. He stood up. It was unbelievable. I was so thrilled.”
In its list of the 100 greatest villains of the 2003 motion picture annals, the American Film Institute placed Nurse Ratched at number five, behind Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates, Darth Vader, and the Wicked Witch of the West. (Sarah Paulson He recently resurrected the character in the Ryan Murphy movie prequel series for Netflix.)
After Fletcher heard her name by broadcaster Charles Bronson and Came to the stage At Dorothy Chandler’s booth to accept the Academy Award, she said, “Well, it seems you hated me so much that you gave me this award for it, and I love every minute of it. And all I can say is that I loved being hated by you.”
Then she praised her parents: “And if you’ll let me [using sign language]: To my mom and dad, I want to thank you for teaching me to dream. You see my dream come true.”
The second of four children, she was born on July 22, 1934, in Birmingham, Alabama, to an Episcopal minister, Reverend Robert C. Fletcher, and his wife, Estelle. They both lost their hearing when they were children, and when lightning struck him, she fell ill.
“If I fall to the ground and hurt myself, I will never cry,” Fletcher Tell New York times in 1975. “There was no one to hear me.”
She was very shy, and her parents sent her to an aunt in Texas, where she lived for several years before she attended Ramsey High School in Birmingham and then graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1957.
She took a trip to Los Angeles with friends and decided to stay, working as a receptionist while taking acting lessons at night with celebrity teacher Jeff Corrie. (Robert Blake was a fellow student.)
After getting a steady job in such TV shows as Pat MastersonAnd the LimanAnd the 77 Sunset StripAnd the wagon train And the Perry Masonthe 5-foot-10 actress made her big screen debut in the war movie Eagles gathering (1963), starring Rock Hudson.
She gave birth to her son John in 1961, and while pregnant with Andrew a year later, she decided to stay away from work. She was married to Jerry Peck, a literary agent who would produce films such as those of Altman long farewell (1973) and Thieves like us.
Fletcher said she didn’t want to appear Thieves like us Because of her husband’s involvement, but Altman insisted.
To prepare for her role in cuckoo’s nestFletcher observed group therapy sessions at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, where the movie was filmed. She spent 11 weeks at the facility while making the film.
In which The New York Times In an interview, Mildred described Ratched: “She was so far removed from her feelings that she had no joy in her life and there is no concept of the fact that she might be wrong. She offered her care to her insane patients in a fatal way, but she was convinced she was right.”
Pauline Kyle New Yorker Describing her performance as “brilliant”, the film also won Academy Awards for Best Director, Picture, Actor, and Screenplay, a sweeping performance matched only by It happened one night (1934) and Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Fletcher never came close to that acting greatness again.
The role of Lenya, the gospel singer mother of two deaf children in Nashville (1975), created with her in mind, but she and her husband fell out with Altman, and Lily Tomlin I got the part (And a supporting actress eventually got an Oscar nomination.)
Fletcher has appeared in other films including The lady in red (1979), Brainstorming (1983), bonfire (1984), Invaders from Mars (1986), flowers in the attic (1987), Two intersection of the moon (1988), blue steel (1989), player (1992) – came back with good yes with Altman – cleverness (1995), high school high school (1996), Mulholland Falls (1996), Bad intentions (1999) and world map (1999).
After she and Beck split, she made tabloid headlines by being romantically involved with the younger Morgan Mason. (The son of British actor James Mason, he married singer Belinda Carlisle.)
In addition to her sons, among the survivors is her sister Roberta.
Forever known for playing Nurse Ratched, Fletcher pointed In 2012 she could no longer bear to watch herself in it cuckoo’s nest. “I was really shocked in those scenes where I was actually so cruel,” she said.
. “Friendly writer. Unapologetic student. Typical internetaholic. Social media ninja. Communicator. Music fanatic.”