Louise Fletcher, Oscar winner as Nurse Ratched in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ dies at 88

Louise Fletcher, who won the best actress Oscar for playing Jack Nicholson’s vicious nemesis Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, has died. She was 88.

Fletcher died in her sleep surrounded by family at her home in Montdurausse, France, her agent David Shaul told The Associated Press on Friday. No cause of death was given.

The 1975 classic film “The Cuckoo’s Nest” followed the patients and staff of an Oregon psychiatric hospital. Directed by Miloš Foreman, the film won five Oscars in 1976, including Best Actress, Best Picture and Best Director. Jack Nicholson won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his indelible performance as patient Randle P. McMurphy, who despises Nurse Ratched’s tyrannical rule on the ward.

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Born in Alabama to deaf parents, Fletcher gave one of the most moving acceptance speeches in Oscar history after her win.

Clutching her Oscar at the 1976 ceremony, Fletcher smiled and told the audience, “It seems like you all hate me so much. But you gave me this award for it. And I loved every minute of it. All I can say, I loved if you hate me.”

Then she tearfully addressed her deaf parents in Birmingham, Alabama, speaking and using sign language: “I want to thank you for teaching me to have a dream. You see my dream come true.”

After a moment of silence, thunderous applause followed.

Having put her career on hold for years to raise her children, Fletcher was in her early 40s and little known when Foreman cast her as “The Cuckoo’s Nest,” having admired her work the year before in director Robert Altman’s “Thieves Like Us”. .” Little did she know at the time that many other prominent stars, including Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn and Angela Lansbury, had turned her down.

“I was the last person cast,” she recalled in a 2004 interview with the Associated Press. “It wasn’t until we were halfway through filming that I realized the role had been offered to other actresses who didn’t want to appear so hideous on screen.”

The character was so memorable that 45 years later it became the basis of the Ryan Murphy Netflix series “Ratched,” starring Sarah Paulson as Sister Mildred Ratched.

Fletcher also starred as a psychiatrist in “Exorcist II: The Heretic” (1977). On television, she portrayed Bajoran religious leader Kai Winn Adami on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” from 1993 to 1999.

“Her contributions to the Star Trek universe will never be forgotten,” the official “Star Trek” page tweeted Friday.

In the 1989 biopic “The Karen Carpenter Story,” she played the controlling mother of the famous title character. In 1996, Fletcher was nominated for an Emmy Award for her guest appearance on “Picket Fences,” playing the mother of Mayor Laurie Bey (Marlee Matlin).

Matlin paid tribute to the “brilliant actress” on Twitter.

Fletcher recently played the foul-mouthed mother of meth dealer William H. Macy in Showtime’s Shameless, appeared in Liev Schreiber’s A Perfect Man (2013) and the Netflix series Girlboss. starring Britt Robertson.

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