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

Louise Fletcher, who gained one of the best actress Oscar for her indelible efficiency as Nurse Ratched in Milos Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” died Friday at her residence in France, in accordance with a rep. She was 88.

The traditional movie, based mostly on Ken Kesey’s novel and exploring the repressive tendency of authority by way of the story of the sufferers and employees of a psych ward, gained 5 Oscars in 1976, together with greatest image and greatest actor for Jack Nicholson.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was the primary movie in additional than 4 many years to comb the foremost classes of greatest image, director, actor, actress and screenplay. It was nominated for a further 4 Oscars and was additionally a considerable field workplace hit.

Within the American Movie Institute TV particular “AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Heroes & Villains,” Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched was named the fifth-greatest villain in movie historical past — and second-greatest villainess, behind solely the Depraved Witch of the West.

Paradoxically, the Ratched character had been softened within the script in comparison with Kesey’s unique, and Fletcher gave a fairly refined efficiency, usually conveying the character’s feelings merely by way of facial expressions, which is why she deserved her Oscar within the first place. Certainly, the actress even allows us to really feel sorry for Ratched at multiple key second within the movie.

In a 2003 reappraisal of “Cuckoo’s Nest,” Roger Ebert declared that regardless of the Oscar, Fletcher’s efficiency “shouldn’t be sufficient appreciated. This can be as a result of her Nurse Ratched is so totally contemptible, and since she embodies so fully the qualities all of us (women and men) have been taught to worry in a sure form of feminine authority determine — a girl who has subsumed sexuality and humanity into responsibility and righteousness.”

It may very well be argued, nevertheless, that the function of Nurse Ratched and the Oscar the actress earned for that efficiency finally did Fletcher extra hurt than good: In a evaluate excoriating the horror movie “Flowers within the Attic,” by which the actress starred in 1987, a annoyed and unsympathetic Washington Submit author opined, “Fletcher ought to speak to her agent about these stereotyped ‘evil’ roles, by which she has change into more and more tedious.”

However Fletcher might nicely have beseeched her agent for a larger number of roles to no avail.

She had most just lately appeared within the 2013 function “A Excellent Man,” starring Liev Schreiber and Jeanne Tripplehorn.

On TV Fletcher had performed household matriarch Peggy “Grammy” Gallagher, a crafty ex-con who however needed a relationship together with her grandchildren, on Showtime’s “Shameless.” The actress recurred on “Star Trek: Deep Area 9” because the scheming, duplicitous non secular chief Winn Adami from 1993-99, on cult sci-fier “VR.5” from 1995-97 and on “ER” in 2005.

She was Emmy nominated for visitor roles on “Picket Fences” in 1996 and on “Joan of Arcadia” in 2004.

Fletcher had returned to appearing in 1974 after greater than a decade away elevating a household and gave a supporting efficiency in Robert Altman’s “Thieves Like Us” that Pauline Kael known as “impressively robust,” however the actress didn’t have a excessive profile in Hollywood when she was forged as Ratched.

Angela Lansbury, Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, Colleen Dewhurst and Geraldine Web page had all turned down the Ratched function, every afraid of the attainable impact on her profession.

Director Milos Forman chanced to see Fletcher in “Thieves Like Us.”

“She was all flawed for the [Ratched] function, however there was one thing about her,” Forman later wrote in his memoir. “I requested her to learn with me and all of the sudden, beneath the velvety exterior, I found a toughness and willpower that appeared tailor-made for the function.”

Fortuitously, there have been some alternatives to flee the typecasting.

She acquitted herself nicely within the 1978 noir spoof “The Low-cost Detective,” starring Peter Falk.

Within the 1979 drama “Pure Enemies,” she starred with Hal Holbrook, enjoying a husband who murders his household. Critic Richard Winters wrote that Fletcher is “fairly good enjoying the polar reverse of her Nurse Ratched character. Right here she is weak and fragile as a substitute of inflexible and authoritative and even has a scene inside a psychological hospital as a affected person. The truth that she will be able to play such completely different characters so solidly proves what an excellent actress she is.”

In 1999’s “Merciless Intentions,” she performed a genial, warm-hearted Lengthy Island aristocrat.

Different movie credit embody “Exorcist II: The Heretic,” starring with Richard Burton and Linda Blair; sci-fier “Brainstorm,” with Christopher Walken and Natalie Wooden; “Firestarter,” starring a younger Drew Barrymore; and “2 Days within the Valley.”

Estelle Louise Fletcher was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Her mother and father have been deaf; she was launched to appearing by the aunt who taught her, at age 8, to talk. Fletcher attended the College of North Carolina; after taking a cross-country journey, she grew to become stranded in Los Angeles and shortly stumbled into appearing.

The younger actress made her display screen debut in 1958 with appearances on “Playhouse 90,” amongst different tv exhibits. The following 12 months she guested on “Maverick,” “77 Sundown Strip” and “The Untouchables.” She appeared on “Perry Mason” twice in 1960, however by 1963 she had deserted her profession, not less than in the intervening time, after making her function debut in “A Gathering of Eagles.”

In 1973, after elevating her youngsters, she resumed her career with a visitor look on “Medical Heart.” After doing a TV film, she was forged in a supporting function in “Thieves Like Us” — a film her husband, Jerry Bick, was producing.

Fletcher’s life story helped function the inspiration for one of many primary characters in Robert Altman’s traditional 1975 movie “Nashville” and was set to play the character when Bick and Altman had a falling out.

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

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