Louise FletcherThe actress, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Nurse Ratched in Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, died Friday at her home in France. she was 88 years old.
Based on the Ken Kesey novel, the classic film explores the oppressive tendencies of authority through the story of a psychiatric ward patient and staff, winning five awards including Best Picture and Best Actor for Jack Nicholson in 1976. Won an Oscar.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is the first film in over 40 years to sweep the major categories of Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Original Screenplay. It was nominated for 4 more Oscars and also had a big boost at the box office.
In the American Film Institute’s TV special “100 Years of AFI… 100 Heroes and Villains,” Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched was named the fifth greatest villain in film history.
Ironically, Ratched’s characters were softer-scripted than Kesey’s originals, with Fletcher delivering rather sensitive performances, often conveying the characters’ emotions through facial expressions alone. In fact, the actress even makes Ratched feel sorry for him during key moments in the film.
In a 2003 re-evaluation of “The Cuckoo’s Nest,” Roger Ebert said that despite the Oscar, Fletcher’s performance was “underappreciated.” and because she so perfectly embodies the qualities we have all (men and women) been taught to fear in some kind of female authority figure: women who embrace sexuality and humanity. Duty and Justice.”
But it can be argued that the role of Nurse Ratched and the Oscars the actress won for her performance ultimately did more harm than good to Fletcher. The writer said, “Fletcher needs to talk to her agent about these stereotypical ‘evil’ roles she’s getting increasingly bored with.
But Fletcher may have asked agents for more diverse roles in vain.
She was recently in the 2013 feature “The Perfect Man” starring Liev Schreiber and Jeanne Tripplehorn.
On television, on Showtime’s “Shameless,” Fletcher was playing family matriarch Peggy “Grammy” Gallagher. The actress starred in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the conspirator and duplicitous spiritual leader Wynn Adami from 1993-1999, in the cult sci-fi flick VR. appeared again in “ER”.
She was nominated for Emmy Awards for 1996’s “Picket Fences” and 2004’s “Joan of Arcadia.”
Fletcher returned to acting in 1974 after being away for more than a decade to support his family, giving a supporting performance in Robert Altman’s “Thieves Like Us”, which Pauline Kale called “impressively strong”. The actress did not have a high profile in Hollywood. She was cast as Ratchet.
Angela Lansbury, Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, Colleen Dewhurst, and Geraldine Page all turned down the role of Ratched, fearing it might affect her career.
Director Milos Forman had the chance to see Fletcher in “Thieves Like Us.”
“She got it all wrong [Ratched] There was something about her,” Forman later wrote in his memoir. Underneath, I found the toughness and willpower to match the role.”
Luckily, there were some opportunities to escape typecasting.
She won her acquittal in The Cheap Detective, a 1978 noir parody movie starring Peter Falk.
In the 1979 drama Natural Enemies, she co-starred with Hal Holbrook, playing a husband who murders his family. Critic Richard Winters wrote that Fletcher is “very good at playing the polar opposite of the Nurse Ratchet character. There’s even a scene where she’s in the hospital.
In 1999’s Cruel Intentions, she played a generous and heartwarming Long Island aristocrat.
Other film credits include The Exorcist II: Heretic starring Richard Burton and Linda Blair. Sci-fi movie “Brainstorm” with Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood. “Firestarter” starring a young Drew Barrymore. and “Two Days in the Valley”.
Estelle Louise Fletcher was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Her parents were deaf. She was introduced to acting by her aunt who taught her to speak when she was eight years old. Fletcher attended the University of North Carolina. After making her cross-country trip, she was stuck in Los Angeles and she soon stumbled upon acting.
The young actress made her screen debut in 1958, appearing in television shows such as “Playhouse 90.” The following year, she made guest appearances in ‘Maverick’, ’77 Sunset Strip’ and ‘The Untouchables’. She made her two appearances in “Perry Mason” in 1960, but by 1963, after making her feature debut in “The Gathering of the Eagles,” she was at least for the time being. had abandoned her career for a while.
In 1973, after raising children, she made a guest appearance in “Medical Center” and resumed her entertainment activities. After appearing in TV movies, she was tapped for her supporting role in the film Thieves Like Us, which was being produced by her husband, Jerry Bick.
Fletcher’s life story served as the inspiration for one of the main characters in Robert Altman’s classic 1975 film Nashville, and was set to play the character when Bick and Altman fell out.
From 1959 to 1978, Fletcher was married to Bick, a Hollywood literary agent who was later also a producer. He passed away in his 2004. She is survived by her sons John Dashiell Bick and Andrew Wilson Bick.
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