Louise Fletcher, the Merciless Nurse Ratched in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ Dies at 88 – Hollywood Reporter
Louise Fletcher, the candy actress from Alabama who received an Academy Award for her flip because the heartless Nurse Ratched — some of the reviled characters in film historical past — in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, has died. She was 88.
Fletcher died Friday of pure causes at her house in Montdurausse, France, her son Andrew Bick instructed The Hollywood Reporter. She had survived two bouts with breast most cancers.
A daughter of deaf dad and mom — she made some of the touching acceptance speeches in Oscar historical past — Fletcher additionally starred as a psychiatrist in Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) and performed reverse Peter Falk amid the star-studded ensemble in The Low cost Detective (1978).
On tv, she portrayed the non secular chief Kai Winn Adami on Star Trek: Deep Area 9 and obtained Emmy nominations in 1996 and 2004 for her guest-starring stints on Picket Fences and Joan of Arcadia, respectively.
She extra not too long ago performed William H. Macy’s meth-dealing mom on Shameless and appeared within the Liev Schreiber movie A Excellent Man (2013) and on the Netflix collection Girlboss, starring Britt Robertson.
After spending greater than a decade away from present enterprise to lift her two sons, Fletcher returned to Hollywood and appeared reverse Keith Carradine and Shelley Duvall within the Robert Altman movie Thieves Like Us (1974).
Director Milos Forman, then casting 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — primarily based on Ken Kesey’s 1962 guide about life in an Oregon psychiatric hospital — noticed her in that film.
“He was watching it to take a look at Shelley Duvall to play one of many ladies who comes on the ward on the occasion evening, and there I used to be,” Fletcher recalled in a 2016 interview. “He mentioned, ‘Who’s that?’ “
A 12 months later, after Anne Bancroft, Angela Lansbury, Geraldine Web page, Colleen Dewhurst and Ellen Burstyn all rejected the possibility to play Nurse Ratched — many believing that the character was too impossibly depraved — Forman lastly gave Fletcher the half.
“I attempted out for it many, many occasions,” she mentioned. “I didn’t notice that numerous different ladies had been turning it down. They supplied it to many film stars who declined, fortunately for me. To assume, what if any person else had mentioned sure?”
Within the movie, the icy Ratched humiliates her sufferers and revokes their privileges on a whim. When she will be able to’t management a brand new arrival, Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), she administers shock remedy on him, then has him lobotomized.
Fletcher knew her life had modified eternally when she watched Cuckoo’s Nest with an viewers for the primary time and noticed how folks reacted to a scene by which McMurphy tries to kill her character.
“It was in Chicago, and it was a packed home,” she recalled. “When he strangles her, the viewers stood up and yelled and cheered. Stood up. It was unbelievable. I used to be thrilled.”
On its 2003 listing of the 100 best villains within the annals of movement photos, the American Movie Institute positioned Nurse Ratched at No. 5, behind solely Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates, Darth Vader and the Depraved Witch of the West. (Sarah Paulson not too long ago revived the character in a Ryan Murphy prequel series for Netflix.)
After Fletcher heard her title known as by presenter Charles Bronson and came to the stage on the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to simply accept her Oscar, she mentioned: “Effectively, it appears such as you all hated me a lot that you just’ve given me this award for it, and I’m loving each minute of it. And all I can say is, I’ve liked being hated by you.”
She then paid tribute to her dad and mom: “And for those who’ll excuse me [using sign language]: for my mom and my father, I need to say thanks for instructing me to have a dream. You might be seeing my dream come true.”
The second of 4 kids, she was born on July 22, 1934, in Birmingham, Alabama, to an Episcopal minister, Rev. Robert C. Fletcher, and his spouse, Estelle. They’d each misplaced their listening to after they had been kids, he when he was struck by lightning, she to sickness.
”If I fell down and harm myself, I by no means cried,” Fletcher told The New York Occasions in 1975. “There was nobody to listen to me.”
She was extraordinarily shy, and her dad and mom despatched her to an aunt in Texas, the place she lived for components of a number of years earlier than attending Ramsay Excessive College in Birmingham after which graduating from the College of North Carolina in 1957.
She took a visit to Los Angeles with mates and determined to remain, working as a receptionist whereas taking appearing courses at evening with the acclaimed trainer Jeff Corey. (Robert Blake was a fellow scholar.)
After getting regular work on such tv exhibits as Bat Masterson, Lawman, 77 Sundown Strip, Wagon Practice and Perry Mason, the 5-foot-10 actress made her big-screen debut within the battle movie A Gathering of Eagles (1963), starring Rock Hudson.
She had son John in 1961, and whereas pregnant with Andrew a 12 months later, she determined to step away from the enterprise. She was married to Jerry Bick, a literary agent who would produce such movies as Altman’s The Lengthy Goodbye (1973) and Thieves Like Us.
Fletcher mentioned she didn’t need to seem in Thieves Like Us due to her husband’s involvement, however Altman insisted.
To arrange for her position in Cuckoo’s Nest, Fletcher noticed group remedy classes at Oregon State Hospital in Salem, the place the film was shot. She spent 11 weeks on the facility in the course of the making of the movie.
In her New York Occasions interview, she described Mildred Ratched: “She was so out of contact along with her emotions that she had no pleasure in her life and no idea of the truth that she might be mistaken. She delivered her care of her insane sufferers in a killing method, however she was satisfied she was proper.”
Pauline Kael of The New Yorker known as her efficiency “masterful,” and the movie additionally received Oscars for greatest director, image, actor and screenplay, a sweep matched solely by It Occurred One Night time (1934) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Fletcher by no means approached such appearing greatness once more.
The position of Linnea, the gospel-singing mom of two deaf kids in Nashville (1975), was created along with her in thoughts, however she and her husband had a falling-out with Altman, and Lily Tomlin got the part (and an eventual supporting actress Oscar nom).
Fletcher did seem in different motion pictures together with The Girl in Purple (1979), Brainstorm (1983), Firestarter (1984), Invaders From Mars (1986), Flowers within the Attic (1987), Two Moon Junction (1988), Blue Metal (1989), The Participant (1992) — again in good graces with Altman — Virtuosity (1995), Excessive College Excessive (1996), Mulholland Falls (1996), Merciless Intentions (1999) and A Map of the World (1999).
After she and Bick divorced, she made tabloid headlines by being romantically concerned with the much-younger Morgan Mason. (The son of British actor James Mason, he went on to marry singer Belinda Carlisle.)
Along with her sons, survivors embrace her sister, Roberta.
Ceaselessly identified for enjoying Nurse Ratched, Fletcher noted in 2012 that she might not bear to observe herself in Cuckoo’s Nest. “I used to be actually shocked in these scenes the place I used to be truly so merciless,” she mentioned.