Louise Fletcher, who received the best actress Oscar for portraying Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Jack Nicholson’s ruthless on-screen adversary, has passed away. It was an 88-year-old woman.
Fletcher passed away peacefully in her sleep on Friday at her home in Montdurausse, France, according to her agent David Shaul. The reason for death wasn’t revealed.
The cast and staff of an Oregon psychiatric facility were tracked in the classic film “Cuckoo’s Nest” from 1975. Including the best actress, best picture, and best director, the Milos Foreman-directed movie took home five Oscars in 1976.
As the prisoner Randle P. McMurphy, who defies Nurse Ratched’s despotic reign in the ward, Jack Nicholson gave an unforgettable performance that earned him the best actor Oscar.
Fletcher, who was born in Alabama to deaf parents, delivered one of the most heartfelt Oscar acceptance speeches after winning.
When accepting her Oscar in 1976, Fletcher grinned and remarked to the crowd, “You all seem to have such a strong dislike for me. But you recognized it by giving me this award. And I’m enjoying it to the fullest. I’ll just say that I’ve enjoyed having you detest me.”
She then spoke and signed to her deaf parents in Birmingham, Alabama, with tears in her eyes: “I’d like to thank you for encouraging me to pursue my dreams. My wish has come true, as you can see.”
There was a brief pause, then roaring applause.
Foreman, who had loved Fletcher’s performance in filmmaker Robert Altman’s “Thieves Like Us” the year before, picked her for the “Cuckoo’s Nest” part when she was in her early 40s and poorly recognized after devoting years to raising her children. She was unaware that several other notable actors, like Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, and Angela Lansbury, had declined to take part at the time.
She remembered in a 2004 Associated Press interview, “I was the last person cast. I didn’t understand other actresses had been given the job because they didn’t want to look so awful on screen until we were halfway through the shoot.
45 years later, Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series “Ratched,” starring Sarah Paulson as Nurse Mildred Ratched, was inspired by the character because she was so recognizable.
Exorcist II: The Heretic featured Fletcher in the role of a psychiatrist (1977). She represented Kai Winn Adami, the leader of the Bajoran religion, on television from 1993 to 1999 in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
Her contributions to the Star Trek world won’t ever be forgotten, according to a tweet posted on Friday by the official “Star Trek” Twitter account.
In “The Karen Carpenter Story,” a 1989 biography, she portrayed the famous title character’s authoritarian mother. For a cameo role as Mayor Laurie Bey’s mother in “Picket Fences” in 1996, Fletcher was nominated for an Emmy Award (Marlee Matlin).
Twitter users received an homage from Matlin to the “great actress.”
On Showtime’s “Shameless,” Fletcher most recently portrayed William H. Macy’s meth-dealing, foul-mouthed mother. She also made an appearance in the 2013 Liev Schreiber movie “A Perfect Man” and the Netflix series “Girlboss,” which stars Britt Robertson.