Louise Fletcher passed away. A veteran actor with over 100 credits to her name, Fletcher was best known for her Oscar-winning performance as the calmly monstrous nurse Ratched in 1975’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nestgive a turn if one of cinema’s great unlikely villains. In addition to that achievements of starsFletcher appeared in a host of film and TV projects, including Stakeout a place for himself as one of the best antagonists altogether Star Trek franchise as the manipulative and underhanded Kai Winn in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Per VarietyFletcher died earlier today at her home in France. She was 88.
Born toThe child of two deaf adults, Fletcher was introduced to the theater by a hearing aunt who also helped her learn to speak. After college, she migrated to Los Angeles, where she began taking on TV roles, often in westerns such as Bat Masterson and Lawman. (In an interview in the New York Times in 1975, Fletcher noted that she had an easier time getting cast in westerns because the distractions were bigger, andat 5’10”, she was often considered too tall to play a love interest for Hollywood’s leading men.) In 1960, she married film producer Jerry Bick; upon the birth of their two children, Fletcher retired from acting for 11 years to raise them.
When she came back, one of her first projects used to be a movie from one of Bick’s old employees: Robert Altman, who cast Fletcher in a minor role in 1973 Thieves like us. Plans to cast Fletcher in Altman’s Nashville apparently it fell through after the director and Bick argued; Fletcher and Bick would divorce themselves in 1977.
But Nashville‘s loss was the gain of another film: Director Miloš Forman saw Fletcher perform in thievesand added her to his list of potential Nurse Ratcheds for his upcoming adaptation of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. While many actors were considered for (and declined) the role, it was Fletcher who ultimately secured it — and the Best Actress Oscar in the process.
Nearly 50 years later, Fletchers continues to perform in the role horrifying: A superficially sweet portrait of institutional evil, she carefully watches the patients in her care, clinging to herself like a snake.still at key moments, and then strikes perfectly on their vulnerabilities. And in Fletcher’s hands she never gives less than the total impression that they believes she does what she does Turn rightand what is the best for all involved. The film—which went on to be a huge box office success in addition to critical reception—just wouldn’t work without her.
After receiving her Oscar in 1975, she took a moment during her acceptance speech for signing a thank you note to her parents – Fletcher’s career continued as before, working steadily until her final roles in 2017. Along the way, she appeared in everything from The Exorcist II (in a part that had at least a touch of Ratched, as many of her contemporary roles did)) until shamelesswhere she played hard and profane mother of William H. Macy’s Frank. (Fletcher in 2012: “My granddaughter can never watch this show.”) However, among the nerd types, she was especially well remembered for her multi-season role on Deep Space Ninewhere she once again wielded “sweetness” and condescension as a weapon, creating a villain that couldn’t be so easy phased or torpedoed, in the form of Bajoran spiritual leader Kai Winn.
Fletcher is survived by her two sons.